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ASNC2016 and Board Preparation Course

Posted on: 09.01.16

Are you scheduled for the upcoming Nuclear Cardiology Board Exam?

In conjunction with ASNC 2016, The American Society of Nuclear Cardiology will offer their Nuclear Cardiology Board Preparation Course on September 21-22 in Boca Raton, Florida.

The review course is designed to prepare participants for the certification and recertification exam in nuclear cardiology, as well as provide a broad overview and discussion of nuclear cardiology topics. The course will revisit physics, instrumentation, radionuclides and radiopharmaceuticals, stress testing, risk stratification, acquisition and processing, Gated Perfusion SPECT, Radionuclide Ventricular Function Imaging, artifact recognition, assessment of myocardial viability and radiation safety. It will also continue to build the student’s critical knowledge and competence around cardiac nuclear imaging procedures.

A maximum of 19.25 AMA PRA Category 1 credits will be earned for this course.

For more information and to register, visit the ASNC Board Preparation Course webpage.

Two great events from ASNC this month

Posted on: 07.15.16

If you’re interested in the best practices and latest research available in the field of nuclear cardiology, ASNC is hosting two important webinars. Register and mark your calendars now- these are two events you won’t want to miss.

Reporting a Myocardial Perfusion SPECT Scan
July 20, 9:00 PM PT

On July 20, 2016, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology (ASNC) invite you to attend the webinar, Reporting a Myocardial Perfusion SPECT Scan. This is the fourth in a series of complimentary webinars designed to provide cardiologists, radiologists, technologists and nuclear medicine physicians with the best practices in nuclear cardiology.

The guest speaker, Peter Tilkemeier, MD, will discuss SPECT studies, accurate reporting, compliance guidelines, the use of structured data, structured reporting and the important role they play in registries, such as ASNC’s ImageGuide Registry.

The event will begin at 9:00 PM PT and end promptly at 10:00 PM PT. For more details or to register, click here.

Imaging Guidelines/SNMMI Procedure Standard for PET
July 28, 12:00 PM ET

The following week, on July 28, 2016, ASNC will be offering a webinar on the 2016 PET Myocardial Perfusion and Metabolism Clinical Imaging Guidelines. Provided by the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology (ASNC) in collaboration with the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI), this event will review the application of the newly published guidelines for the performance of nuclear cardiology procedures and will include a 10-15 minute Q & A session to discuss specific issues. It is complimentary for all ASNC members and $75 for all non-members.

The webinar will begin at 12:00 PM ET and end promptly at 1:00 PM ET. Your participation is also eligible for continuing education credits so please be sure to review the requirements.

For more information or to register for this event, click here.

Four Critical Components of an Effective Risk Assessment

Posted on: 12.10.15

Security risk assessments play a vital role in making sure your patient data is safe and secure. Many organizations believe that a simple vulnerability scan will satisfy the requirement for a risk assessment, but the fact is that it’s only one element. A complete and compliant risk assessment must include four distinct components. These include:

1. Technical Safeguards

Technical safeguards are those that protect the aspects of how you’re storing your personal health information and are generally tested by running a vulnerability scan. The vulnerability scan is an automated test that identifies network security weaknesses.

2. Organizational safeguards

Organizational safeguards primarily address the “minimum necessity rule.” This Rule is designed to ensure and determine who has access to specific data and to consider whether it is required or necessary to perform their duties. If any person has more access than they need, you’ve created an organizational vulnerability.

3. Physical safeguards

Physical safeguards speak to the physical protection of information. You are the custodian of privileged patient information and are responsible for it’s care. This component includes precautions that defend against physical and environmental hacking, such as building security, key card access, off-site data replication and recovery and firewall protection, just to name a few.

4. Administrative safeguards

Administrative safeguards are the protection of information from a legal perspective and include such things as business associate agreements, employee confidentiality agreements, background checks, termination checklists and the implementation of formal policies and procedures. It’s critical to be able to administratively ensure that you have proper documentation and processes in place to terminate an employee’s access and maintain compliance, especially in an environment where technology plays such a large part.

What to do after a security risk assessment

It’s important to remember that performing a security risk assessment is only the first step in a process. Once all of the vulnerabilities and deficiencies are identified, the next step is to design and implement a remediation action plan. The key to compliance is continually repeating the process and addressing the issues. Technology and business change on a daily basis so it’s critical for your compliancy program to remain fluid.

Featured Expert: This post was written with the assistance of Jim Johnson, President of Live Compliance. Live Compliance specializes in HIPAA regulation compliance and training and is the provider of Digirad’s Compliance Program.


Safeguarding Health Information Conference Recap

Posted on: 11.19.15

On September 2-3, 2015, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) co-hosted the 8th annual conference, Safeguarding Health Information: Building Assurance through HIPAA Security, at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, D.C.

The conference explored the current health information technology security landscape and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Security Rule. It highlighted the present state of health information security, and practical strategies, tips and techniques for implementing the HIPAA Security Rule.

Live Compliance president, Jim Johnson, was among the conference attendees and stressed the importance for all organizations, regardless of size, to stand up and take action. In reviewing the conference, Johnson identified three key takeaways from the sessions including:

It’s only the beginning

Iliana Peters, J.D., LL.M, Senior Advisor for HIPAA Compliance and Enforcement at the HHS Office for Civil Rights acknowledged that HIPAA is in its infancy, but also stated that this initiative is only the beginning for rule making. The more instances of non-compliance discovered by the OCR, the greater number of fines and penalties that will be levied against organizations that do not want to play by the rules.

Not just for large organizations

The penalties we hear most about are the expensive and exciting newsworthy ones that are charged against large organizations. The simple translation by smaller organizations is that the OCR won’t bother auditing a practice of their humble size when they have bigger battles to fight and larger penalties to collect. Contrary to that belief, the OCR will be assessing more $5,000 and $10,000 fines, emphasizing and demonstrating that these rules apply to every person and organization that handles PHI. A single-physician practice has as much obligation to comply as does a 40-doctor surgery center.

The importance of risk assessments

With the continuous development of regulations addressing patient privacy and the far-reaching consequences for non-compliance, an annual risk assessment is critical. Many organizations run a vulnerability scan and believe they have satisfied their assessment responsibility. In actuality, they’ve only completed one component of an effective risk assessment. During an assessment, organizations need to consider where their PHI is located and who has been given access to it. Continually evaluating who requires access to the data should be the driving factor in an effective evaluation.

In summarizing the event, Johnson stated “HIPAA regulations apply to all organizations that work with protected or personally identifiable patient information, not just large organizations. Forty-doctor offices and under need to take notice that the Office for Civil Rights is standing strong behind these rules and will ensure that everyone is in compliance.”

Is it time to move to an EHR system?

Posted on: 10.29.15

Transitioning from paper-based health records to an Electronic Health Records (EHR) system is a move that will affect almost every aspect of your practice. There are many benefits to an EHR system, but these benefits come with a cost. You’ll need to invest in the software and train your staff in new processes. So why are practices making the move to EHRs? We’ve put together six key benefits of making the switch. Take a look…

Fewer errors

Digital data allows for fewer errors than traditional paper records. Among other things, legibility is no longer an issue and physicians can be prompted to include information that they may otherwise forget to communicate.


Patient safety is one of the most important concerns in providing care. From the safety of records management, including patient privacy and security, to the reduced duplication and electronic delivery of prescriptions to the pharmacy, EHRs substantially increase safety through a variety of different mechanisms and safeguards.

Cloud Based Options

Newer, cloud-based EHRs can be securely accessed from any computer with an internet connection, whether that’s from an exam room, your home office, the emergency room or even from your favorite vacation spot. It allows physicians immediate access to an organized and complete history of care instead of the limited notes from the patient’s last office visit.

Time savings

More important than the obvious time saved by not having to manually chart a patient’s visit to the office is the time saved during a crisis. During an emergency, the value of having accurate and comprehensive health information at your fingertips is priceless. Access to blood type, documentation of any known allergies, and other crucial details can help physicians make quicker and more confident decisions in critical patient care.

Easier collaboration

Test results, diagnostic reports, prescribed medications, notes, questions, and recommendations for a single patient are all in one place. Whether across the country or across the street, two providers or ten, electronic records facilitate more effective collaboration and communication among physicians, especially when addressing multiple facets of the patient’s care.

Administrative efficiencies

Imagine not having to store hundreds or thousands of paper records. EHRs provide instant storage and retrieval of records. Your office staff will substantially increase efficiency by spending less time managing paperwork and more time on other tasks.

EHRs are soon to be the standard in medical records, not necessarily because of the conveniences and efficiencies, but more so because the technology substantially improves the safety, quality, and delivery of patient care. Migration to electronic records is not only innovative and forward thinking, it’s almost a necessity in today’s medical environments.

Challenges and obstacles of the PQRS

Posted on: 10.08.15

The Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) is a quality monitoring reporting program that was launched by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to improve care through accountability and disclosure. Under PQRS, healthcare providers report quality measures about the services they have provided to Medicare beneficiaries.

These quality measures help assess care in terms of patient outcomes, perceptions, and organizational structure. They ultimately contribute to achieving a higher standard of care by focusing on effective, safe, patient-centered, equitable and timely delivery of treatment.

Challenges and Obstacles

Non-compliance with the PQRS program will result in fees and penalties. Eligible professionals that do not satisfactorily report data on quality measures in 2015 will be subject to a 2.0% adjustment in their fee schedule. Penalties for the 2015 reporting period are set to be assessed in 2017.

Although the PQRS rules directly impact the profitability of every practice, many have still not implemented this protocol. Why? Providers are not adequately educated about the program, overwhelmed by the perceived effort required to implement the program, or simply unaware it exists.


Aside from the financial impact of participating in the reporting program, there are other substantial advantages that benefit both providers and patients. With the results of this reporting, physicians can more easily:

  • Assess the quality and enhance the care they provide to their patients
  • Work with their patients to make informed decisions together, which lead to improved quality of care, improved health outcomes, and an increase in their overall quality of life
  • View their published quality metrics alongside those of their peers so that they can quantify and track the quality of their services

For more information on PQRS and step-by-step instructions for getting started, visit the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services here.


Five ways a Cloud PACS can help your practice

Posted on: 10.01.15

With advancements in technology, a traditional PACS (Picture Archiving and Communication System) is no longer your only choice when it comes to image storage and retrieval. A cloud-based PACS removes many of the limitations of a traditional PACS. Cloud based PACS offer benefits and conveniences that increase efficiency, accessibility, and ultimately, the level of patient care. Some of these advancements include:


Storage in a cloud-based PACS is typically off-site and virtual. There’s no need for onsite servers, hard drives or the physical installation of software. Patient data is automatically streamed directly into the cloud as it’s created. The storage is easily scalable, allowing the cloud to grow as your organization grows.


Gone are the days of having to be tied to the office to view studies. With a cloud-based PACS, physicians, technicians, and administrators are able to access patient files by logging into a secure PACS application anywhere there’s an internet connection. Easily sharing data, forwarding referrals and the ability for multiple people to access data simultaneously are standard functionality.

Data Recovery

Virtualization provides an automatic disaster recovery plan. The servers, software, network configuration and security are automatically replicated and stored in a separate offsite disaster recovery cloud. In the event of a disaster, the cloud recovery will provide the quickest and most efficient data recovery and restoration.


Cloud-based storage can save a considerable amount of money on both capital and operating expenditures. This technology allows for the consolidation of multi-vendor storage resources, which substantially reduces storage costs. There is also a significant reduction in maintenance and repair since the vendor is responsible for maintaining all offsite equipment and software. Many vendors offer a variety of payment options, including pay-as-you-go, monthly plans, payments per study, and one-time fees. You can structure your payments in the way that is best suited for your office.


The security of the system and all the data transmitted via the web is encrypted and protected appropriately, even if you are using a shared network. You’ll no longer have to be concerned about the safety of your patients’ information.

A cloud-based PACS not only offers conveniences, it also offers the latest advancements in technology. Improved collaboration, image sharing in real time, anywhere access…these benefits positively impact the operation of your organization, while reducing costs and operational responsibilities. In the big picture, it ultimately allows you to devote more time providing your patients with the best, comprehensive medical care available.

Accreditation Timelines

Posted on: 07.16.15

No one looks forward to an audit, but it’s required triennially to ensure continued IAC or ACR accreditation for your practice. Because maintaining your accreditation is of such great importance, the reaccreditation audit can be extremely stressful. To help manage the pressure and avoid a lapse in your accreditation status, you’ll need to have a plan, start early, and stay organized. Here is a general timeline during your three-year accreditation term to help keep you on schedule.

1st year of Accreditation:
□ Physicians and Technologists should be earning CMEs and CEUs.
□ Perform annual update of policy and procedures.
□ Schedule two quality improvement meetings.
□ File a copy of the recorded meeting minutes.

2nd year of Accreditation:
□ Physicians and Technologists should be earning CMEs and CEUs.
□ Perform annual update of policy and procedures.
□ Schedule two quality improvement meetings.
□ File a copy of the recorded meeting minutes.

3rd year of Accreditation:
□ Physicians and Technologists should be earning CMEs and CEUs.
□ Perform annual update of policy and procedures.
□ Hold two quality improvement meetings.
□ File a copy of the recorded meeting minutes.

8 months prior to renewal date, begin gathering information and documentation

6 months prior to renewal date, your online application will be unlocked and you can begin entering information and uploading documents

4 months prior to renewal date, submit your application for reaccreditation

3-0 months prior to renewal date, monitor your email regularly. You will receive a notice of approval or a detailed notice of non-compliance.

Any notice of non-compliance will be time sensitive. Be conscious of deadline dates.

Within 30 days of notice:
□ Submit your corrective action plan for all deficient items noted.

Within 60 days of notice:
□ Submit evidence that your corrective action plan was implemented.

What to do if you fail an IAC audit

Posted on: 05.28.15

So you failed an audit…

During each period of accreditation, your practice will be subjected to an audit by the IAC. You should expect a notice of audit, via email, at any time during this period. Be sure to have a valid email address on file, one that is monitored regularly. Once the audit is complete, you’ll receive approval or a time-sensitive notice regarding your non-compliance.

It’s important to avoid your accreditation from lapsing, so throughout the accreditation period, it’s critical that you stay organized and on track. Proactive planning and implementing appropriate processes and controls will assuredly minimize your risk of a failed audit.

If you receive notification of a failed audit, there are generally three steps to follow:

  • Read the letter carefully. You will need to respond to each deficiency. Common areas of non-compliance include substandard execution of quality improvement meetings and documented meeting minutes, patient reporting, required policies, quality control and physician CME documentation.
  • Submit your corrective action plan within 30 days. Be sure to provide detailed actions for each violation.
  • Submit documentation of the completed action within 60 days. You will have exactly 60 days to implement your corrective plan, and you must provide the appropriate documentation as evidence of having done so.

No one wants to fail an audit, but thankfully there is a process to address any issues. Act quickly, be conscious of deadlines and start planning now for the next one.

Where/how to get Nuclear Medicine CME’s

Posted on: 04.30.15

One of the requirements for Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC) or American College of Radiation (ACR) accreditation renewal is the successful completion of 15 continuing medical education (CME) credits per physician and the 15 continuing education units (CEU) per technologist.

Physicians and technologists generally have an abundance of credits; however, the credits must be specifically relevant to nuclear medicine. This is an incredibly important detail that many practices overlook, and many times is the reason a practice is cited for non-compliance.

Starting the continuing education process early-on is crucial so that physicians and technologists will have enough time to complete the appropriate number of courses. One CME/CEU is equal to 1 hour, so each staff member can expect to dedicate 15 hours per 3-year accreditation period earning these credits.

Here are some quick links if you’re looking for more information on where to find CMEs and CEUs
Upcoming CME Courses (IAC)
Recurring Courses and Self Study (IAC)
Online CME Courses (IAC)
eLearning Sources (ACR)
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