This blog post was written by our guest blogger Al Tripodi, Healthcare Administrative Assistant at Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS).

Redspin, a leading provider of penetrating testing services and IT security audits, annually analyzes breaches that have been reported to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).  This blog provides a summary of findings published in their 2013 report released in February 2014.

HIPAA data breaches have climbed 138 percent from the number of patient records breached in 2012-2013 according to Redspin’s 4th Annual Report.  A total number of 29,276,385 patient health records have been affected by a breach since 2009.  The number of patient health records breached in 2013 alone was 7,095,145.  Keep in mind that these numbers only include reported breaches that affected more than 500 patients and that were reported to HHS from August 2009 to December 16, 2013.  Breaches that impacted less than 500 are reported to HHS on an annual basis but are not made available to the public.

HIPAA data breaches

(Pic via datacandy.com)

Lisa Gallagher, Senior Director of Privacy and Security for HIMSS, said at the 2012 Boston Privacy Forum, that somewhere between 40 million to 45 million patient records have actually been compromised.  The number can’t be confirmed, as the data isn’t all there, she adds, but it’s a more accurate number based on healthcare organizations’ reporting.

The percent of the total records breached in 2013 was 85.4% resulting from the 5 largest incidents.  The top 5 were:

  • #1-Advocate Medical Group where four laptops containing more than 4 million patient records were stolen on July.
  • #2-AHMC Healthcare where thieves accessed a sixth-floor, video-monitored office to steal two laptops, which contained Medicare patient data from six AHMC hospitals in California affecting 729,000 people
  • #3-Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth where, in a bizarre incident, sheets of microfiche containing patient records from the ‘80s and ‘90s were found in several Fort Worth public areas that affected 277,014 people
  • #4-Indiana Family & Social Services Administration where a computer programming error caused by a business associate wreaked havoc on Indiana FSSA’s client mailers affecting 187,533 people
  • #5-Cogent Healthcare Inc., a transcription company, where patient medical treatment history was compromised when a business associate stored data on a non-secure site opening up public access to the records of 32,151 people for more than a month.

From the same report:

  • 83.2% of patient records breached in 2013 resulted from theft
  • 22.1% of breach incidents in 2013 resulted from unauthorized access
  • 35% of incidents in 2013 were due to the loss or theft of an un-encrypted laptop or other portable electronic device
  • Less than 20% of PHI breaches have involved a business associate each year from 2009-2013.

Under the new HIPAA Final Omnibus Rule, covered entities and business associates responsible for violating HIPAA privacy and security rules by failing to safeguard patient protected health information could face a potential of up to $1.5 million in annual fines. Out of the more than 90,000 HIPAA breach cases OCR has received since 2003, only 17 of them have resulted in fines thus far.

To prevent audits, this is what you can and should be doing:

  1. Risk Assessments, encrypting of end-user devices and contingency planning are likely the key areas that auditors will be examining.  HIPAA-covered entities most often make their biggest misstep due to risk analysis inadequacies. This applies to business associates and covered entities alike. It’s the “failure to perform a comprehensive, thorough risk analysis and then to apply the results of that analysis,” HHS’ Office for Civil Rights Director Leon Rodriguez said.  Based on the complaints OCR has received, risk analysis failures top the list for the biggest security issues.
  2. A majority of reported breaches involve lost or stolen devices that are not encrypted.  The best thing you can do for your practice is to be sure that you are using encryption software on all of your devices.
  3. Finally, make sure that you have a Contingency Plan in place and that you are following the plan.

In summary, PHI breaches will continue to be reported at an exponential rate, and no question that physician practices, hospitals, health plans as well as business associates are working diligently to mitigate risks for exposure.  As technology continues to advance, so must vigilant efforts to protect patient data.

RMS Healthcare can provide consultation and training services to ensure HIPAA Privacy and Security Compliance within your organization. If you would like to learn more about HIPAA Privacy and Security Compliance or further discuss how RMS Healthcare can help you, contact our Director of RMS Healthcare Susan Maxsween at SusanM@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.


This blog post was written by our guest blogger Karen Joncas, Healthcare Transformation Coordinator at Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS).

In a recent interview, Devin Gross, CEO of Emmi Solutions, a technology firm that provides interactive and multimedia solutions which engage and empower patients to take a more active role in their own healthcare, shared his thoughts on what the new industry buzzword “patient engagement” means to his firm. Emmi Solutions has been successful because of their focus on the end-user of their product, the patients of the healthcare organizations that they serve.  Their business model includes holding patient focus groups to improve the tools they sell with an emphasis on customer service.  This results in success for their clients by engaging patients in their own care. They have also been successful staying ahead of the curve in an industry with constant change.  He also emphasized that they seek to employ people who believe in the company’s stated mission of changing healthcare by helping the patient and their family in difficult times. This business model could and should be emulated by the healthcare organizations using the tools to facilitate self-management support.

Patient Engagement

Here are the most salient takeaways from this article. They are all focused on placing the patient at the center of care management:

  1. Creating an emotional connection with patients: Speaking to people respectfully as individuals is important in facilitating their success.  Making emotional connections with patients is motivating and satisfying for both the patient and the healthcare workers charged in their care.  The ultimate goal in patient self management is understanding how to use tools and resources.
  2. Talking to patients on their terms: In order to enhance patient engagement and involvement in their care management, it is critical that we talk to them as individual people on their terms in ways that they will understand.  The goal is to empower the patient to be engaged and take charge and ownership in their own care and health.
  3. Treat patients with respect:  At any point during a patient encounter, there can be many “touch points” that a patient experiences.  A positive “touch point” for a patient can provide an exceptional experience and make the patient feel that they have been treated with respect, kindness, courtesy and compassion. This positive encounter can provide great momentum for patient engagement and long-term commitment.  The display of respect can provide the foundation of a long-term collaborative relationship between a patient and the provider which can yield long-term positive outcomes.
  4. Educate and encourage patients to be involved:  We know knowledge equates to power.  Providing patients with a foundation of knowledge will yield more positive outcomes.  Patient knowledge is critical for long-term compliance and behavioral change.
  5. Engaging key-stakeholders in patient education:  Patient engagement and compliance can best be achieved by engaging staff and employees that believe in their mission of education. If the mission is to achieve improved performance, that is driven by patient engagement.  Therefore, staff that is passionate about their mission, will undoubtedly provide the foundation for change.  Most important is that you regularly assess the impact of staff by engaging patients to provide feedback about how their commitment is driven by staff engagement.  Staff that is motivated in their work has a wonderful opportunity to influence significant change among patients.

Asking the patient what is important to them, tracking the results, and continually adjusting processes to improve success is critically important to the financial success of healthcare organizations where there is constant change in technology, government, and insurance payment programs.

RMS Healthcare, a division of Research and Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS) has over 50 years of collective and proven experience in providing consulting services to meet the specific needs of our clients.  Regardless of your healthcare research or practice transformation needs, RMS Healthcare can help.  If you are interested in learning more, please contact Susan Maxsween, Director of Healthcare and Practice Transformation at SusanM@rmsresults.com or telephone her at 1-866-567-5422.

Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) is an ICH-CAHPS® vendor that manages the survey process for a large number of dialysis centers across the country. Each year, the RMS Healthcare Team prepares an ICH-CAHPS® industry benchmark report so facilities can compare individual facility scores with aggregate RMS industry-wide results. This report is a value-added supplement provided to RMS ICH-CAHPS® clients at no additional charge. Our clients report this industry benchmarking report as valuable in assisting them monitor their quality and patient satisfaction metrics.

To view the full ICH-CAHPS industry report prepared by RMS, click on the image below:

ICH-CAHPS® Survey Infographic

ICH-CAHPS® Survey Infographic – Click Here to View the Full Report

RMS utilized one of two methodologies to conduct the survey: (1) mixed mode or (2) phone only mode. The mixed mode of survey administration includes an introductory letter, two mailings of the survey, a postcard reminder and telephone follow-up. The phone only mode includes an introductory letter and up to 10 attempts to contact each patient by telephone. Surveys were offered and conducted in both English and Spanish languages.

This report represents the aggregate results of the survey conducted on behalf of all the dialysis centers that contracted with RMS. The survey fieldwork represented in this report was conducted from May 2013 thru December 2013. The aggregate results can be used by dialysis centers to benchmark survey results for quality improvement purposes during the upcoming year. Comparisons to the aggregate survey results from 2012 are provided to show trends in the responses from the past year.

Michele Treinin, Healthcare Analyst for RMS had the following to say about RMS Healthcare and her work on the ICH-CAHPS®:

“If you’re looking for high response rates, extensive in-depth reporting, and a team that is both experienced and accessible, look no further than RMS. We feature an on-site call center that can handle large patient volumes and our call center team offers both English and Spanish languages. In 2014, RMS will offer its clients an ICH-CAHPS® Portal that will allow administrators to see real-time data throughout the survey process. When data collection is complete, each client will receive a personalized, in-depth report for each facility. This report will provide results and include comments received from patients. The report will also include an overall aggregate report which can be used to compare your facility to all facilities that RMS contracts with. RMS is both a CMS and NRAA approved vendor.” 

If you are interested in hiring Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) to be your ICH-CAHPS® vendor contact our Business Development Associate Marc Bovenzi at MarcB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.

RMS Healthcare provides a broad scope of consultative services. We understand in this ever-changing healthcare environment that your focus is to provide quality patient care while optimizing operations.

ICD-10 Coding Consultant

Delay of ICD-10 Coding

We would like to share the following link with you concerning a recent article in the Modern Healthcare on-line publication pertaining to the Senate passing the House’s Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014, which delays cuts in physicians’ Medicare rates and also puts off implementation of ICD-10 until October 1, 2015 at the earliest. President Barack Obama signed the legislation Tuesday afternoon.  We hope you find the information timely & valuable.

Click on this link to view the Modern Healthcare article.

Our firm has a proven process in working with individual physician offices, large multi-site practices and physician organizations locally, regionally and nationwide. We also provide hands-on consultative and operational support for healthcare organizations. Our healthcare division represents experienced and trained staff that specializes in:

  • Strategic Planning
  • Practice Assessment
  • Pay for Performance (P4P) Program Optimization
  • Customized Practice Marketing
  • Meaningful Use Demonstration
  • Business Management Oversight

If you have any questions regarding the topic in the article, or would like more information about the scope of services we provide, please don’t hesitate to contact me at 1-866-567-5422 or by e-mail at susanm@RMSresults.com.

In this era of smart phones and social media, it’s never been easier for organizations to communicate with their customers and prospects. That’s mostly a good thing from an overall marketing perspective. From a market research perspective, it’s proven to be somewhat of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, researchers have new, often more cost-effective ways to reach consumers and obtain faster results. On the other hand, the fact that the opportunities for research have grown, particularly surveying, leads to an increasing number of people feeling as if they are being bombarded with too many surveys.

Over-surveying customers

Are you over-surveying your customers?

This 2012 article from the New York Times explains how many American consumers are losing their patience with well-meaning attempts to survey them about their experiences. The issue isn’t just limited to the United States. An article from the British-based Customer Experience Magazine explains how over-surveying customers can actually be counter-productive to Customer Relationship Management (CRM) efforts.

Regardless of which country consumers live in, the psychology behind feeling over-surveyed is the same. This post from the blog Consumerthink.com does a good job of laying out one of the main dynamics of the issue. As the author points out, “When you ask a customer to take a few minutes to do a survey, you are asking the customer to do you a favor. Most people have a natural instinct to help, and don’t mind. But if you keep asking over and over and over, pretty soon doing a favor feels like a burden.”

At RMS, surveys are one of the key and most valuable services we offer to our clients. As such, we would never argue against surveying in general. But we do acknowledge that over-surveying is a legitimate issue in market research and believe that researchers and their clients should take measures to prevent wearing out the public with too many surveys. With that in mind, we offer these 9 tips to avoid over-surveying your customers:

  • 1) Only survey when you plan to actually use the data – This might sound obvious, but the sad truth is that many organizations administer surveys and never take action on the data. In a lot of cases, we suspect that these organizations are conducting surveys simply because other firms in their industry do, and they believe it’s just expected of them or “the right thing to do.” At best, this is a waste of time and effort. But in an environment where consumers are feeling increasingly over-communicated with, contacting them for a survey you ultimately won’t do anything which adds to the problem.
  • 2) Make sure that the surveys you administer are professionally designed and executed – Respondents quickly lose patience with surveys that are poorly written and designed. Nobody has time to figure out what a vaguely-worded question really means, or to struggle to follow along with an instrument that’s poorly laid out or routed.  This problem has gotten worse with the proliferation of survey software like Survey Monkey, that not only increase the volume of surveys sent, but have also led to more of them being created by people without an understanding of the basics of survey design. Sending out a flawed survey instrument not only ensures flawed results, it also tries the patience of the intended audience.
  • 3) Don’t make surveys longer than they need to be – One of the main reasons some people avoid surveys is because they fear they will take too much time.Survey fatigue is a real phenomenon and promises to become more of a problem as attention spans get shorter. Researchers need to respond with shorter surveys that will not only reduce the fatigue level of those who take them, but also hopefully win back people who have shied away from surveys because of the time factor.
  • 4) Be mindful of how many “touches” a potential survey respondent gets from you. Don’t overdo it. As research panels grow in use, the issue of over-surveying panel members warrants a great deal of concern. Hitting panel members up for surveys too frequently will cause many of them to either start ignoring the invitations or to leave the panel altogether. At the same time, researchers need to be careful that those who accept all those survey invitations don’t become “professional survey takers” who become so exposed to market research that their value as respondents is compromised.  As RMS maintains and grows its ViewPoint research panel, making sure that we are not over-surveying our members has been one of our main priorities.
  • 5) If you use phone surveys, make sure your callers are professional and personable – This is another one that sounds obvious in theory, but isn’t exercised enough in practice. When the public feels over-surveyed, they certainly aren’t going to make time for a rude or robotic voice on the phone, nor should they. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: call center reps are not a commodity.
  • 6) If you use online surveys, make sure that your invites and reminders don’t seem like spam – One of the biggest factors in the 21st Century that makes people feel like victims of information overload is unwanted email.  Because it’s such a wide-spread annoyance, as a society, we’ve become pretty good at filtering it out and ignoring it. If your online survey invites look or read like spam, or if they become spam-like in their frequency, they will get filtered out and ignored by their intended recipients. It’s that simple. To get around this, keep the invitations short, to the point and avoid trigger words that might land your correspondence in a junk mail folder. Also, don’t overdo it in terms of frequency. An initial invite plus one or two reminders to non-responders is usually enough.
  • 7)Consider alternative ways of obtaining information you want from a survey – Surveys are incredibly useful research tools, but they aren’t the only ones at your disposal. Sometimes the information you’re looking for can be obtained through syndicated or other secondary research, government databases, feedback from your sales force and service reps, qualitatively focused in-depth interviews with just a few customers, or even past research that you recently conducted. As an added bonus, those methods should all be less expensive and probably faster than conducting a brand new survey.
  • 8) Let potential respondents know how taking the survey can benefit them – Most of your potential survey respondents are probably nice people, but let’s face it: Even nice people are more willing to do something for you if there’s something in it for them. With that said, consider sweepstakes or other incentives as a way to reward people for taking the time to do a survey. Also, be sure to remind them that the feedback they give will help improve the service and offerings you provide in the future. (If you’re approaching market research the right way, that will be true.)
  • 9) Above all, consider how any survey might enhance or detract from the long-term relationship you are trying to build with your customers/the public – In other words, keep the big picture in mind. The relationship you have with customers is your most valuable asset. When the insights you gain from a survey will ultimately help you strengthen that relationship, then by all means survey. But when you do so, use the previous 8 tips to avoid going about it in a way that might harm that relationship.

Can you think of any more tips? Comment below.

The Director of Business Development at Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) can be reached at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422.

Intercept surveys/interviews can be a great method for obtaining data for a research project. On-site interviews are one of the best choices when you need top-of-mind feedback or need to speak to an audience that visited a specific location. We’re currently in the process of conducting multiple projects that have an intercept interview component, so we put together a few tips for conducting intercept interviews. Here are a few case studies for past intercept survey projects conducted by our firm, RMS:

  1. Mall intercept survey company case study
  2. Restaurant intercept survey vendor case study
  3. Movie theater intercept survey case study
mall intercept survey company

(Pic via olingergroup.com)

Here are 7 tips for conducting intercept interviews:

  • Be Friendly – Smile! Nobody wants to conduct an interview with someone who doesn’t seem interested in the questions they are asking. Our experienced interviewers have mentioned time and time again that being friendly is overwhelmingly the most important aspect for being a productive interviewer. Being friendly allows the interviewer to quickly build a rapport and obtain quality data from the respondents. The secondary benefit to having the respondent conduct an interview with a friendly and professional representative is that it leaves the respondent with a more positive view (as well as an increased awareness) of the end client’s products and services.
  • Dress The Part – Intercept interviewers act as a representative of the client and it’s important that they dress professionally. Dressing the part gives the interviewer the appearance of “belonging” at that location and makes the respondent feel more comfortable.
  • Identify Yourself – Along with dressing professionally comes properly identifying yourself to the respondent. The interviewer should wear a name tag that identifies him/herself and also the company that they are working on behalf of. Since the interviewer may be working for a market research company that the respondent is ultimately not aware of, it’s important that their name badge presents a brand the consumer is familiar with (i.e. the logo of the mall where the interviews are being conducted).
  • Approach the Respondent – It’s important that the interviewer keeps moving. If they’re sitting at a table, hoping somebody is going to approach them to conduct a survey, the fieldwork is going to be very unproductive.
  • Position Yourself In Multiple Locations – If applicable, it’s important to conduct intercept interviews in multiple locations. For example, if you’re conducting surveys for a mall, you absolutely do not want all of the interviewers to sit outside of the electronics store for the whole day. Doing this will limit the audience that you speak to and will ultimately skew the data. It’s best to station yourself in a variety of locations to capture the thoughts of different audiences.
  • State Your Purpose – People are afraid of being sucked into a sales pitch for a product or service they don’t want to buy. Since many consumers have their guard up when being approached by a representative it’s important that the interviewers state that they are just conducting a quick survey, and aren’t looking to sell anything. We’ve found that getting past this barrier is one of the best ways to have the individual agree to complete the survey. If the individual still refuses, it’s time to move on!
  • Be Honest – Be realistic about the time it will take to complete the interview. If you tell the respondent it will take 1 minute, and 10 minutes later they see they still have multiple questions left – they can easily just walk away (and most likely won’t be happy with their experience). It’s important to always be honest about the time to complete the survey, especially when you are an active representative of a brand.

These are the main aspects of the interview process that help make our fieldwork productive and our projects successful. Our interviewing teams utilize these tips when they are in the field and help create the foundation for our research projects.  If you’re interested in conducting mall intercept surveys or any other type of intercept interviews with Research & Marketing Strategies, feel free to contact Sandy Baker at (866) 567-5422 or e-mail her at SandyB@RMSresults.com.

RMS Healthcare will be hosting a series of webinar sessions which address the Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) model adoption within physician practices.  The sessions will be aimed to provide the participant with applicable “how-to’s” of implementing processes to change the landscape of patient care within the practice and to optimize operations which support the adoption of patient centered standards of care.

The first webinar of this series will be hosted on Tuesday, April 29th, 2014 beginning at 12:00 PM EDT. To register for this healthcare webinar click here. The webinar session will be hosted by Susan Maxsween, Director of Healthcare and Practice Transformation at RMS.

RMS Healthcare Webinar April 29 2014 at 12 PM EDT

RMS Healthcare will be hosting a PCMH webinar on Tuesday, April 29th beginning at 12:00 PM EDT.

It is no surprise that the evolution of healthcare delivery has been significantly impacted by the cost to deliver healthcare and the cost to receive healthcare.  Patients now, more than before, are and will be expected to invest more proactively and become engaged in their healthcare.  Practices should be looking at improving the overall health of patients, better engaging them in their own care, and helping them take better care of themselves to stay healthy.  Physician practices, both primary care and specialty care, are busy providing patient care, but also strategically positioning themselves to optimize practice operations while focusing on patient centered care delivery.  This webinar will discuss the journey of transformation to provide safe, effective, and efficient care.

Improved patient care and coordination of care has captured the attention of the healthcare delivery system nationwide.  With the inception of the concept of Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) much attention has been directed to the overall impact of improved quality of patient care through an integrated approach to care delivery.  Since the release of the Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century, released in 2001 from the Institute of Medicine, significant attention has been directed towards improving quality and coordination of care.  It is the notion that the PCMH model is essential to improve quality of patient care.

RMS Healthcare is a division of Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS). If you have any questions about RMS Healthcare or this healthcare webinar, contact Susan Maxsween at SusanM@RMSresults.com or call 1-866-567-5422. To view more healthcare posts written by RMS click here.


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