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Here's where you can find out about what CHS is up to, what's coming in the future and events. Keep up to date with CHS happenings and find out what's on our calendar.

SIIA TRADE SHOW

It is time for the annual SIIA National Conference and Expo. As in years past, Complete Health Systems will be exhibiting at the show, which will be held on October 21 - 23, 2013 in Chicago, IL. The conference's theme is "Outsmarting Reform".

Be sure to stop by booth #500, so we can show you how CHS can help improve how you manage self-insured programs.

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RBS (REGULATORY BUDGET SENTINEL)

TESTING IS KEY TO SMOOTH ICD-10 TRANSITION
By: Nicola Crean, CHS Marketing Coordinator

With less than a year to go until ICD-10 diagnostic and procedural codes are officially implemented, the health care industry as a whole appears to be making progress to prepare for the next major deadline. This transition has required a great deal of planning, along with extensive training in order to prepare individuals for the extensive ICD-10 system.

“It is clear that ICD-10 is happening, and significantly more hospitals have begun programs since April,” reported Andrea Clark, chairman and CEO of Health Revenue Assurance Association (HRAA), in an EHR Intelligence article.

HRAA recently did a follow-up survey to a study done in April to determine how hospitals, in particular, were progressing towards ICD-10. The number of hospitals that reportedly began ICD-10-CM training was 78 percent, up from 60 percent less than six months prior.

“This is vital as coder productivity is expected to decrease by more than 70 percent with the transition,” said Clark. “The better trained a hospital’s staff is, the more of a chance than can beat these estimates.”

Hospitals are only one entity that needs to make accommodations for ICD-10. Other divisions, such as health care providers and insurance companies, must take the same steps in order to be prepared for October 1, 2014. Many experts stress the importance of communication between the various divisions of the industry to ensure a smooth transition.

“If [hospitals] don’t have their major payers lined up and the payers don’t understand how the hospitals are going to code using ICD-10, that becomes a recipe for miscommunication,” said HRAA’s Dean Boyer, chief technology officer.

The new coding system will enable providers to be more specific about what and who they are treating, which helps payers determine what will be paid for. ICD-10 will also allow the U.S. to track health trends among Americans to gain a better understanding of the issues that the public are facing.

“It will allow for more granular coding, so as we move toward electronic records being shared with other caregivers, we’re going to start getting a clearer picture of what works best for successful patient outcomes,” said Michael Wilson, chief executive of Healthcare Information Management, in an article published in DiagnosticImaging.com. “It will also have a financial benefit to physicians by allowing them to bill for more complex treatments when dealing with high-risk, sicker patients.”

STRESSED OUT EMPLOYEES COSTLY FOR BUSINESSES

By: Nicola Crean, CHS Marketing Coordinator

When it comes to daily stressors, work is often ranked as one of the major causes of stress. Feeling under pressure to perform or manage a large work load are just a few ways that people can quickly feel overwhelmed at work.

“Work can be stressful,” said Dr. Greg Willard, PhD., a Harvard University professor, in a Business News Daily article. “[Some] jobs tend to involve major stressors such as physical danger, separation from family, long hours, or intense public scrutiny, but there’s much more to stress at work than you might have guessed.”

According to studies published by the American Psychological Association, 70 to 75 percent of Americans report that work has created stress, which continues to affect their health and overall wellness. The triggers may be different for every individual, but the effects can have a significant impact on daily life.

"Some, such as headaches or sleep problems, are more known than others,” said Medibank 24/7 Health Advice Line psychologist Melissa Lehmann. “But stress can also contribute to serious long-term conditions such as heart disease, depression and anxiety."

According to the American Psychological Association, over 41 percent of Americans report chronic work-related stress affecting them daily.  This appears to be becoming a normal pattern throughout the country as more individuals feel the pressure at work.

Stressful workplaces can cause more than physical side effects. This type of environment can also take a toll on employees’ productivity and presence in the workplace. Approximately one in three workers believes they are at least 10 percent less productive during the work day because of work-related stress.

Unhappy, stressed out employees can lead to an underlying cost for companies. The World Health Organization estimates that stress costs American businesses over $300 billion per year. Costs that occur can be from the lack of productivity, absenteeism or hiring and training new employees to replace individuals who decide to leave the company entirely.

In addition to those costs, more employees appear to being using health services in order to manage the stress-related symptoms that begin to develop. Individuals who require more care will often end up costing the business more money in the long run, which adds to the financial burden of stressed out employees.

Experts believe that it is beneficial for companies to lower the stress among their staff because happy employees tend to be more productive. Those who have an increased level of satisfaction will also tend to be more loyal to their company as a whole.

Businesses have the opportunity to decrease the level of stress within the workplace by offering benefits to employees. Many approaches have been successful, but studies show that increasing salary is a sure way to instantly see a change within the organization.

“Simply paying employees more money can itself increase productivity on the job,” said Willard. “Not because money is greater compensation for greater productivity per se, but rather because the employer has effectively alleviated the most prevalent source of stress.”

Overall, companies have the power to set the tone of what type of workplace they want to create. Keeping employees happy should be looked at as an investment, and way to decrease additional costs down the road.

“Improving stressful working conditions and educating workers on stress-coping mechanisms could help to reduce health care costs,” said Azagba. “Managing workplace stress can also foster other economic advantages, such as increased productivity among workers, reduce absenteeism and diminish employee turnover.”

THERE ARE SOME BEHAVIORS YOU JUST CAN'T REGULATE.

By: Chacko Kurian

Regulations depend on carrots and sticks. If you don’t pay your taxes, there will be serious consequences – the stick. If you buy a home with a home loan, we’ll let you take the interest payment deduction on your taxes – the carrot. The HITECH Act has a number of sticks associated with the security of Protected Health Information (PHI). We at CHS will be addressing the issue of security of PHI in forthcoming articles. There is, under some circumstances, one link in the security chain that no regulation can affect -the uninformed behavior of the user. This article addresses one method where cyber criminals make unwitting users partners in a security breach.

Prior to founding Apple Computers, the Steves (Wozniak and Jobs) could be found ripping off Ma Bell using a blue box to make long distance phone calls (domestic and international) for free. The subculture that reveled in this activity called “phreaking” was probably the progenitor of the subculture of hackers who, today, like to hack computer systems just because they’re there. There is the story of Steve Woz(niak) actually making a “phreak” phone call to the Vatican and asking to speak to the Pope while pretending to be Henry Kissinger with a think German accent. These are the guys who later found legal ways to take your money.

Before the age of digital telephone switching systems, telephone switches reset trunk (long distance) lines with a tone at a specific frequency – 2600Hz. This meant that the trunk line was disconnected at one end and available for dialing at the other end. The dialing was also accomplished by tones at preset multiple frequencies. How did one get those frequencies? Legend has it that the 2600Hz frequency was discovered by accident by Joe Engressia, known among phreakers as ‘Joybubbles’, at the age of 7! He was apparently able to whistle at that frequency and so attach himself to the dialing end of an available long distance line.

But how does one progress from knowing that you could get a trunk line to using it to make free long distance calls. In 1954, the then undivided Bell System published an article in the Bell System Technical Journal about the basics of signaling using multi-frequency tones. This piece of information by itself was of little use. The second and final piece of the puzzle was published, again courtesy of Ma Bell, in the November 1960. Bell System Technical Journal in an article called “Signaling systems for control of telephone switching”. This article published the actual multi-frequency tones used to control the switches. From that information to the creation of the reputed “Blue Box” that became a clandestine product was a short step. With one of these boxes, anybody was able pick up a phone and make free long distance calls.

To be able to win this questionable prize, the phreaker required two pieces of information and they were found in two locations, but once they were combined, the information became quite powerful. Today – cybercriminals put two pieces of information discovered from different locations together to achieve their nefarious goals..

Spear Phishing is the technique by which pieces of information stolen from different locations are put together, by cybercriminals, to steal your identity, your money and anything of value. How does this work? Unlike the shot gun approach taken by those Nigerian scam artists who send out millions of emails, the Spear Phisher is looking for prey with a small email blast to very targeted prospects. All they need to start the process is one piece of information – your email address and sometimes your name. They don’t need anything like a credit card number, the password to your on-line bank account or your social security number– well, not yet. The attack is quick and over in less than a day, before security and software companies have an opportunity to react.

A typical Spear Phishing attack starts with an email that comes to you and looks something like this, courtesy of the Microsoft Safety and Security center

Remember they already have your email address and sometimes your name so the “Hello” salutation is not so innocuous. It looks very familiar but the highlighted items should make you suspicious. If you examine the links you will find that they link to unsecured and unfamiliar sites as shown below:

Once you click on the link and enter the information they’re asking for, they’ve got you.

Another variation of this technique is to send you an email making you an offer that sounds reasonable on the surface, but requires you to open an attachment with the details of the offer. Again, once you open that attachment, they’ve got you. What happens behind the scenes is that the attachment has a robot program that can do almost anything that they want it to do. It can install a keystroke logger and send your internet banking or credit card passwords to the cybercriminal. It can give control of your computer over to the cybercriminal and so enable more of these schemes to be run from your computer. The possibilities are endless.

Sometimes the Spear Phisher makes the email look like its coming from your boss – again remember he has email addresses and names. The email may require you to give up password and other authentication information in order to perform a “security audit” or an “account verification”.

Key to making this criminal endeavor work is that it requires your participation to either provide the missing information or open the attachment. So the best defense it to verify the email by contacting the sender by phone or alternate method if the email looks suspicious. A good antivirus program installed on your computer can help too.Remember for the scheme to work it requires your participation.

We might as well brace for a number of these email attacks. Recently Epsilon, a division of Alliance Data suffered an illegal entry on its client’s email databases. This is the company that processes marketing communications for loyalty programs like Marriott Rewards, Citibank Advantage and many other large organizations. Imagine the rich information for cybercriminals that email addresses, names and loyalty program associations can provide. If you belong to the Marriott Rewards program like I do, expect an incredibly valuable offer to come to you via email. Do not open the attachment even though the logo looks almost right and the text has only one or two spelling mistakes.

There’s lots of regulations coming from Washington DC these days, but I don’t think they can think one up for this.

CHS SOFTWARE UPDATE

CHS Software you may want to use

Often, we at CHS, are guilty of not informing you of products or features that we have implemented over the past year that you may want to use. This year we have rounded out our individual enrollment, billing and administration offering with a full cycle product. If you sell individual policies or sell voluntary products in addition to your regular employer sponsored group health offerings, this may interest you.

"Full Cycle" in this context means the following:
i) taking the application for enrollment of the individual/family on the web, after getting their responses to qualifying/underwriting questions,
ii) enrolling them in the plan of choice,,
iii) billing their credit card or bank account at the appropriate frequency, i.e. monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually,
iv) applying the payments received against the appropriate invoices
v) disbursing premium/commission and other payments to carriers, brokers/agents and other suppliers
vi) updates to Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable and General Ledger without manual intervention after set-up.

We would like to say that all of the above happens "automatically" (a grossly over-used word) but it doesn't. It happens with minimal, but appropriate, human intervention. For example, there are checks and balances in place to make sure that premium billing adjustments owing to changes in family composition or product choices are made accurately. The web enrollment product, CHS iCoverNow, has to be customized with your logo, color palette, questions and response logic. Users of our product like it. It has allowed them to grow into areas where they couldn't before. We believe that this will interest administrators of individual health plans who sell to the public at large and may become a valuable tool in the context of health care reform.