CMS guidance warns about remotely accessing health records

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Federal health authorities have issued guidance to providers about accessing resident and other health records remotely. The advisory is at least partially in response to recent reports of laptops and other electronic devices being misplaced, lost or stolen.

The guidance directly advises providers on a wide variety of electronic devices used to access or transmit electronic protected health information. Entities coved by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) should be "extremely cautious" about the transmission or access of protected information off-site, advises the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The CMS document counsels provider on steps to take and policies that could be implemented for a wide range of scenarios, including physicians transmitting prescription changes and caregivers sending resident information to off-site storage areas.

To view the seven-page guidance, visit http://www.cms.hhs.gov/SecurityStandard/Downloads/SecurityGuidanceforRemoteUseFinal122806.pdf.