Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Death of City Worker Highlights Need for Protections for Public Workers

A traffic device designed to make roads safer for drivers proved to be the death of a Quincy, Mass., worker.

On Oct. 18, 58-year-old Bobby DeCristofaro was repairing a traffic light for the city of Quincy when he fell to his death after his bucket truck was struck by a tractor-trailer truck. DeCristofaro had worked for the city for 25 years.

Unlike private employers, public employers are not covered under the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act. Massachusetts remains one of only five states whose public employees are not covered by the act. This has resulted in inconsistent implementation of safety programs, putting thousands of workers at risk, said Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, executive director of the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH).

"Our hearts go out to the families and co-workers of DeCristofaro," said Goldstein-Gelb. "While it is too early to determine all of the factors that contributed to this death, it shines a glaring spotlight on the hazards facing municipal workers and the need for consistent and effective health and safety measures."

Many municipalities are not aware that under Massachusetts law, the Department of Labor Standards (DLS) is charged with inspecting public sector workplaces and determining the measures needed to ensure worker safety. According to DLS, "In the absence of specific standards, it is the policy of our office that public sector employees follow the OSHA Standards as a minimum. Compliance with the OSHA Standards will in most cases ensure compliance with the intent of Chapter 149 section 6."

While authorities are still investigating the details that contributed to this fatality, similar incidents have occurred previously in Massachussets. In fact, DLS recently issued an alert to draw attention to the injuries and deaths caused by aerial lift and bucket truck accidents.

In 2009, an employee of a Public Facilities Department in a city in southeastern Massachusetts was seriously injured when the aerial lift truck he was working in was struck by a tractor trailer. In that incident, the DLS investigation found several failed safety measures which contributed to the accident, including inadequate barricades, failure to provide police detail and lack of sufficient restraint or fall protection system.

"I have met many other families of workplace fatality victims and while the details of each incident are different, they all have one thing in common: These tragedies can and must be prevented," said Melissa King, a MassCOSH board member whose father was electrocuted at his job in 2005.

This article was originally posted at http://ping.fm/QhaN4

Friday, October 21, 2011


Writing for eLearning represents an interesting challenge for people who aren’t used to writing for eLearning. This blog touches on some of the basics of writing for eLearning and provides some simple suggestions on how to make your prose more effective when it hits the web.

Remember that telling is not training.

As much as some people might want to cling to this notion, telling someone something once does not constitute training. Training, at a minimum, should include some sort of practice activities so learners get a chance to noodle around the new content as it makes connections with other ideas in their heads.

Use stories to make training more real.

I’m not saying that you should be out there trying to write the Great American Novel in the form of an eLearning class (although that is a pretty cool concept). Tell the story in terms of the learner’s universe. Don’t provide a list of tasks and expect learners to remember what they are and when to use them. Instead, use common work tasks learners already do, and present the new content in that context. It helps to include transitional materials that connect one part of a lesson with the next.

To do this sort of connecting (see the way I connected the preceding paragraph with this one?), use summaries at the end of lessons that say things like, “Now that you’ve completed the XYZ task, you’ve created the desired output. In the next lesson, you’ll see how to apply that output to the 123 task.” Or introduce new tasks by saying things like, “By the time you reach this point in the process, you should have the A, B, and C completed. In this lesson, you’ll see how to use those completed activities to…”

These are simple, rhetorical tricks, but they work.

So, use the existing work processes as the plot of your story, and then stitch the lessons together with connecting language as shown above.

Write simply.

Hemingway is reputed to have advised young writers to write simply. He urged them to appreciate the complexity of the world, but to write simply when expressing that complexity.

Suggestions to help you write simply:

  • Avoid using the word “utilize.” I’ve yet to come across any instances in the English language where the word “use” can’t replace the word “utilize.” And that goes for any word that ends in “ize.” As instructional designers, we need to write clearly and directly. If your prose starts to sound like an MBA wrote it, you’re in trouble.

  • Do what newspaper reporters do and write to an eighth to tenth grade reading level. I suggest taking all your copy from a course you’ve written and dropping it into Microsoft Word. If you’ve configured Word to display readability statistics after you complete a spell check, Word will provide you with some useful data about your writing, including a rough estimate of the reading level required to understand it and how easy it is to read.

Restrict yourself to no more than 100 words per page of content.

Frankly, I’d recommend no more than 80 words per page, but that can become restrictive. If you need more room, insert an extra page.

Tips to help you achieve this limit:

  • Outline your course before you begin to write it.

  • For each line in your outline, presume your course will need one screen of content. To cover your topic thoroughly, it may be helpful to let the OCD side of your personality take over when you outline your course. Don’t be shy about creating a monster outline because no one’s ever going to see it except you. The point is, the more thorough your outline, the more complete your course will be, and, if you find you’ve gone too crazy, it’s a lot easier to delete a line from an outline than it is to write the copy you need to cover a topic and then delete it.

  • Cover your topic in the space of that one screen.

  • If you need more than one screen to cover a topic, consider splitting your topic into two and use two pages to cover both new topics thoroughly.

Factor how fast people read when designing your course.

One source puts the average words per minute that average American adults read at 300 words per minute . This has a major impact on the design of your course, so factor that in when you consider how long you want your course to be. If this figure is accurate, it should take an average American adult 20 seconds to read a 100-word page of content.

However, if people are reading to think critically and learn, they’ll probably read a bit more slowly than that as they have to expend energy integrating your new content with what they already know.

Use an editor.

Abraham Lincoln is once reputed to have said that a man who represents himself has a fool for a client. There’s a corollary in there when it comes to editing your own work. You need fresh eyes on your content, someone who can spot when the Curse of Knowledge makes its way into your writing. For more on the Curse of Knowledge, please go to www.heathbrothers.com. You’ll be glad you did.

Not only will good editors edit your copy, but they’ll make recommendations on how to improve it. Learning from a good editor is one of the best ways to become a more effective writer.

The cool thing about these suggestions is that they’re technology independent. You can practice them irrespective of the technology you’re using to create your courseware.

This article was originally posted at http://ping.fm/s5q06

The World of Elearning ? According to NuggetHead

We work hard and fight for better, richer, more meaningful elearning. We continue to look for new ways to be better designers, yet we always feel like we don’t have the time or the skills to break free of the status quo.

No matter what direction the world of elearning goes, we can still explore new ways of design. Spend a day with me at DevLearn11 and we’ll dive into some different and fun ways to design elearning – with Storytelling and Comics.

It’s not too late to register for my 1-day pre-conference certificate program:

How to Put the Story in Storyboarding for Elearning

This article was originally posted at

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Real Learning Curve

By ANNIE MURPHY PAUL | @anniemurphypaul

Learning is simple, right? It’s the process of moving information from out there — from a textbook, a company report, a musical score — to in here, inside our heads, and making that knowledge our own. Parents, teachers, and other experts are full of sensible-sounding advice about how to learn well: select a particular place to study and use it consistently; concentrate on one subject at a time; focus intensively on the material just before a test or an important meeting.

But it turns out that learning is not so simple and obvious — all of the above instructions, for example, are flat-out wrong. Our own experience with learning — or our kids’ or our employees’ — shows us that learning can be a tricky thing: we read and we memorize and we practice, and still the information doesn’t always stick. Under the pressure of an exam or an audience, our hard-won knowledge does a disappearing act. Even social scientists have been confounded by learning. For more than a century, psychologists have constructed elaborate theories of how people learn that are intricate, elegant—and mostly useless.

And then, about ten years ago, researchers started to do something radically different. Using the tools of neuroscience and cognitive psychology, they began paying attention to how the brain actually learns. This new field has witnessed explosive growth over the past decade, generating academic programs, professional journals, research conferences and reports of scientific findings by the thousands. What they have discovered was a surprise: the brain has its own set of rules by which it learns best — and they look nothing like what we imagined. From these rules, some remarkable conclusions follow:

• How we learn shapes what we know and what we can do. Our knowledge and our abilities are largely determined not by our IQ or some other fixed measure of intelligence, but by the effectiveness of our learning process: call it our learning quotient.

• Everyone can learn more effectively. Successful learning doesn’t require fancy schools, elaborate training sessions, or expensive technology. It just takes an understanding of how the brain really works.

• We need a learning revolution: in the schools, at home, and in the workplace. Although the science of learning has made enormous advances over the past decade, its discoveries have remained restricted to academic journals and conferences. It’s time to liberate this knowledge for the good of learners everywhere.

Each week in TIME Ideas, I’ll be examining the latest research and the most penetrating insights into how learning works. I hope you’ll join me — together, we have a lot to learn.

Paul, the author of Origins is at work on a book about the science of learning

eLearning Smackdown

by SteveFoerster

While there are a lot of different opinions about eLearning, one thing no one can dispute is that it's growing by leaps and bounds among American colleges and universities. Various studies have shown that the number of students going online has skyrocketed, particularly in subjects of interest to professionals. As a recent article in the Chronicle reported:

The National Center for Education Statistics has released a report on online-learning growth between 2000 and 2008, showing that the percentage of undergraduates enrolled in at least one online class went from 8 percent to 20 percent during that time. Computer-science and business classes were the most popular. This expansion has also been documented in a series of Sloan Consortium reports.

With any big change comes winners and losers, and in that scenario it's inevitable that there will be those who promote different positions. That's why it was so interesting that two conflicting views on eLearning recently appeared on the same day in InsideHigherEd, making it very easy to consider the two as a debate on the issue.

The first was from two former state governors, Jeb Bush of Florida and Jim Hunt of North Carolina, who wrote on why public universities need to embrace online education. They pointed out studies showing that online learning is at least as effective as traditional classroom-based instruction, and concluded that given the lower costs of eLearning and the improved access to education that it makes available to students, it's only the responsible thing for public institutions to do to expand their use of it.

The other view was from Johann Neem, a history professor at Western Washington University. He wrote on the limits of online education in replicating classroom culture. He concedes that for "certain students, especially working adults pursuing clearly defined vocational programs rather than a liberal arts education, online programs may allow opportunities that they would have otherwise foregone." But his main point is that "online higher education will never replace, much less replicate, what happens on college campuses."

These articles are both worth reading to get more to the heart of what all of those writers are trying to say. And both pieces make good points, which isn't the most natural thing for me to admit either about something written by politicians or something written by a skeptic of eLearning. If there's one thing that's clear, it's that eLearning is certain to expand further, from all sorts of institutions. But with useful dialog about the strengths and weaknesses of various ways forward with online education, hopefully the best paths can be found.

This article was originally posted at http://ping.fm/O2Njf

Opposition to eLearning Is Healthy for Its Growth

By Michael Keathley

As pressures to add online classes and programs continue to converge upon the fortresses of modern academia, resistance is responding with an equally powerful force. One of the most interesting tug of wars is between polarized educators who are strongly advocating for online courses and those who are adamantly opposed to eLearning.

The Issue

Largely because of demand from students, faculty, employers, and other socio-political forces as well as the need to save money and space, many postsecondary institutions are adding online classes at a rate that outpaces face-to-face (F2F) traditional brick and mortar growth. There are other pedagogical arguments that could be made in favor of adding online courses; however, these are not as frequently or as vociferously expressed as the others. It makes one wonder why the business reasons outweigh the pedagogical ones even for the non-profit and public schools who hold their heads high as the ones who value students over profits.

On the other hand, opponents typically cite:

  • a belief that students can not get the same experience in an online course as in a traditional F2F class

  • that online classes simply do not meet the academic rigor or security of F2F classes

  • that online classes do not result in savings and they may be even more expensive

  • that eLearning opens the door for all sorts of abuses.

Further Explication

However, the core of the issue for educators may lie elsewhere. As stated by Tina Korbe in a recent article entitled: “University of California teachers’ union aims to block online classes,” the objections expressed by the University of California chapter of the American Federation of Teachers (UC-AFT), provides a typical example of resistance. It appears, quite understandably, that an often neglected main objection to adding online classes comes down to not only professional, but also personal survival. As Korbe states, “Instructors… are terrified that this is code for cutting their pay, or increasing their workloads, or outsourcing their jobs to interlopers, or replacing them with online teaching software.” One has only to pay attention to the diction in that statement to feel the fear: ‘Pay cuts,’ ‘increased workloads,’ ‘outsourcing,’ ‘interlopers,’ and ‘replaced by technology’ are so commonly used now in the job market, they are almost clich├ęs. Considering the pros, cons, and need for education and its constituents—faculty, administrators, and staff, included—to survive, there is good reason for the uproar.

Exacerbating Fears

Korbe’s somewhat snarky comments, echoed by others, that lecturers have “posh jobs” and they are just interested in tenure positions are typical examples of insensitivity, too. This does little to encourage solutions. There is nothing “posh” about living from term/semester to term/semester not knowing if you’ll have a job. There is nothing “posh” about working multiple part-time teaching positions, teaching more classes than a human being can possibly keep up with just so that you can hopefully pay your mortgage payment and utilities this month. There is nothing “posh” about forced unemployment during the summer months or having to go to the extremes that one of my former adjunct instructors did, selling her blood plasma for gas money to drive to campus to teach because the college didn’t offer part-time instructors their first paycheck of the academic year until nearly two months into the fall semester! There’s nothing “posh” about having a PhD and making little more than the fast-food workers who, incidentally, probably have better job security and benefits. As an administrator, I was neither pleased nor living the high life a few years ago while listening to a talented faculty member offer his resignation because being a full-time gas station attendant “paid better, offered benefits, and days off.”

Administrators and outside antagonists need to stop taunting faculty for the passion they have for their profession and their survival.

Responding in Kind

Faculty must also resist the temptation to respond to eLearning advocates in ways that exacerbate the negative. As a faculty member, administrator, and former faculty assembly president for more than two decades, I share with my colleagues great pride in the artistry of teaching. Once upon a time when the push for eLearning began at my institution, I was famous for heroically declaring, “Over my dead body will we offer online classes in this department!” As time went on, however, I was seduced by online opportunities. It began with simple tasks like being able to notify a faculty member’s students that class was cancelled because of illness via the Learning Management System (LMS). Then I discovered that if I made my syllabi and other classroom materials available on the LMS about a week before the first day of class, more than two-thirds of my students typically read them and began class better prepared. Finally, I came to realize the value in eLearning. I realized my fears of virtual education were largely unfounded. Technology, just like pen and paper, wax tablet and stylus before it, is a tool of learning; it will never replace a true teacher nor can it create a valuable educational experience on its own. I began to work with online learning advocates to create equitably rigorous online courses and programs in a way that was cost effective for the benefit of our students primarily and other constituents secondarily.

Reality Check

Honestly, looking back, the rigamortis I had promised over offering online classes was merely a creative expression of my fears about this brave new world that was global and nearly limitless in potential. Like the little creatures at the river’s bottom in Jonathon Livingston Seagull, I was afraid to let go of what had been so comfortable and secure for so long. Would the fast moving current of virtual education be detrimental to my students, our programs, and the college? Would technology replace me professionally? Would I become unemployable as a single father with two children to support? As a department chair and faculty assembly president, could I tell those who looked to me for leadership that their profession and jobs would be safe if we entered the virtual world?

The reality is that these battle lines can be healthy. Educators especially must put down their weapons; we know where living by the sword gets us. They need to do what educated people do best: lead! Together they need to return to the basics of academic research: analyze, synthesize, theorize, and apply.

The Heart of Academia

Online learning offers faculty/administrators the chance to be inspired by new visions of how the artistry of teaching can be delivered in a new modality. This is at the very heart of academia and the etymological meaning of the word ‘educate’—to pull forth from. For example, I was pulled out of my comfort zone to deeply rethink my profession and place in it. How could I energize and engage my online students in a true learning community as I had been able to do in the F2F classroom? How could classroom discussions move from the claustrophobic F2F meeting constraint of two-three hours per week within cement block walls to the breathtaking 24/7 borderless landscape of eLearning? How could I ensure that in every component of my online classes, I not only shared subject matter knowledge, but also that I took my students on an adventure that also improved their literacy skills, their technical fluency, and their communication abilities—all of which are needed to learn and work in today’s world. Closer to home, how could I hone my own skills to meet the demands of my profession during this rapid metamorphosis?

How wonderful is it that education is being forced, as I was, to continually evaluate what it is doing and how it’s being done! How wonderful for our students who continue to benefit from this debate. It should be seen positively as a system of checks and balances where educators in all roles engage in proactive, constructive dialog to meet the needs of all constituents internally (students, faculty, administration, and staff) and externally (employers, politicians, etc.). Here again, the University of California provides a concrete example of a positive solution. Korbe shares that together the UC-AFT and administration came up with an agreement “that included a new provision barring the system and its campuses from creating online courses or programs that would result in ‘a change to a term or condition of employment’ of any lecturer without first dealing with the union.” This helps alleviate faculty fears about their positions and shares ownership of the process, allowing all to focus on best practices of online education. This is a healthy step forward that other institutions and faculty organizations should emulate.

Newton’s First Law of Motion

Certainly Newton’s First Law of Motion may also apply to people: A body remains at rest unless acted upon by an external force. If there were no demand for online learning and no push back from concerned educators to maintain academic criteria, education would remain at rest and not evolve into the multitude of viable incarnations that are developing via the Internet. Consider just some of the categories in this arena available to today’s student:

• Traditional F2F

• Online

• Hybrid (a combination of F2F + online)

• Supplemented (F2F with online activities)

• Job Training • Certification

• Apprenticeships

• Courses only

• Competency-based

• Remediation/Tutoring

This is only a partial list, and the options and opportunities within each seem nearly limitless.

Fear Looks; Faith Leaps

Although opponents to virtual education are correct that institutions shouldn’t rush to drive the eLearning bandwagon into their curriculum, educators also must not fear the movement so much that they argue for a total moratorium. All sides working together can certainly arrive at winning solutions for all involved. Make the leap of faith to trust in your colleagues and your students to explore fully the benefits of online learning rather than reject it. The University of California is doing so, and this former opponent has now enjoyed working full-time in the virtual world for over ten years.

This article was originally posted at http://ping.fm/ob1ws

Monday, October 17, 2011

Using Game Mechanics to Enhance eLearning

eLearning has revolutionized the study arena in many ways. Presently, almost all recognized global universities have eLearning programs for various disciplines. Experts are trying to find out new ways through which students can learn faster and gain better knowledge of subjects so as to impart better learning on the electronic medias. LMS or Learning Management Systems are considering many new dynamics in this field. Gamification or game mechanics is one such technique that is being experimented and used for imparting better e-learning in many subjects. The concept uses the mechanics of gaming in non-gaming applications and studies.

However, using game mechanics doesn’t refer to the inclusion of games in the electronic learning process. In fact, the mechanics has almost nothing to do with the applications of narrative and themes used. It rather encourages and urges the users to learn and explore properties with the help of different feedback mechanisms. Games are appealing because they engage the viewers and player in a particularly entertaining way. The use of the similar mechanics in LMS of eLearning can ease out things for learners and can help extensively in improving the learning process by increasing the interest.

The process of using game mechanics in LMS for eLearning is best done by gaming experts. These bunches of tech freaks know the ways to engage viewers. Learning or studying appears to be boring for many students who take it as a burden or duty. But when the entire system of eLearning will be converted into an engaging activity, the concepts of students and teachers will change in many aspects. The purpose of learning is to compel the brain to understand the concepts of e-books, and further translate the same into action and reactions. This is the prime reason why materials and books need to be fascinating to engage students.

While using gaming mechanics in eLearning, gaming engineers focus on creating goals and objectives. All games have certain objectives, which is the prime drive behind playing it. The same concept is used for creating goals in eLearning. These objectives, however, cannot be long-term as students will lose interest in achieving them. This is where the concept of ‘layers’ of objectives has been thought if. Giving many segments of goals will encourage learners to pursue them in a more concentrated way.

As discussed earlier, it is essential that regular feedback is taken from the learners regarding the use of game mechanics in the LMS structure in eLearning. The aim is to encourage and motivate learners to take an interest in all the activities, and; therefore, regular assessment is essential to measure the success and progress of the technique. If concepts used can hook the learner for several hours, then the engineer has undoubtedly succeeded in making the right use of gaming mechanics in eLearning.

About emPower

emPower  is a leading provider of comprehensive Healthcare Compliance Solutions through Learning Management System (LMS). Its mission is to provide innovative security solutions to enable compliance with applicable laws and regulations and maximize business performance. empower provides range of courses to manage compliance required by regulatory bodies such as OSHA, HIPAA, Joint commission and Red Flag Rule etc. Apart from this emPower also offers custom demos and tutorials for your website, business process management and software implementation.

Its Learning Management system (LMS) allows students to retrieve all the courses 24/7/365 by accessing the portal. emPower e-learning training program is an interactive mode of learning that guides students to progress at their own pace.

For additional information, please visit http://ping.fm/JlNiA.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Washington Study Finds Workplace Inspections Improve Safety, Save Money

A decade’s worth of inspection data in Washington suggests that a visit from the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) can be good not just for workplace safety, but also for a company’s bottom line.

Researchers with the Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention (SHARP) program, L&I's research unit, examined L&I inspection data and workers' compensation claims from 1998 through 2008. The study found significant reductions in claims and claim costs following a safety inspection or safety consultation.

The greatest impact came when an inspection resulted in at least one citation. In those cases, the research found a reduction in worker injury claims of as much as 20 percent over similar work sites that were not inspected.

"Safety is not always at the forefront of an employer's mind. But when a significant event takes place, like a serious injury or an L&I inspection, it can really get their attention," said SHARP Director Barbara Silverstein. "This can lead to a greater recognition of what can be done in the workplace to reduce hazards, itself leading to safer workplaces and fewer injuries."

Silverstein and Michael Foley, senior economics research manager for SHARP, presented their findings at a quarterly meeting of OSHSPA, the Occupational Safety and Health State Plan Association, an organization of 27 states and territories that have their own agencies enforcing workplace safety rules, like L&I.

An executive summary of "The Impact of DOSH Enforcement and Consultation Visits on Workers' Compensation Claims Rates and Costs, 1999 – 2008" is on L&I's web site and copies of the full report are available by contacting SHARP at 888-667-4277.

This article was originally posted at http://ping.fm/UtoVc

Report: Congress, Presidents, U.S. Supreme Court Have Obstructed OSHA Regulatory Process

Some OSHA regulations have been delayed for as long as 31 years, with presidents, Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court all contributing to the slowdown in the rulemaking process.

“The requirements on OSHA have nearly paralyzed the agency,” said Justin Feldman, worker health and safety advocate with Public Citizen and author of the report. “As a result, OSHA cannot adequately protect workers from toxic chemicals, heat stress, repetitive use injuries, workplace violence and many other occupational dangers. Inadequate regulation imposes tremendous costs on workers, who may be forced to pay with their health or even their lives.”

Because so much time and resources are spent trying to promulgate fewer standards, Public Citizen asserts that OSHA has been unable to address many other risks. For example, NIOSH has identified 682 toxic chemicals to which workers are exposed. OSHA has no existing regulation for 244 of these chemicals, meaning workers can be exposed to them at any level. For another 196 chemicals, OSHA’s standards offer less protection than NIOSH recommends. OSHA has regulated only two chemicals since 1997; industry, meanwhile, develops two new chemicals every day.

This article was originally posted at http://ping.fm/N0eSI

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

HIPAA Activity on the Rise

HIPAA Audit Program

The HIPAA audit program mandated by the HITECH Act is underway. HHS recently awarded KPMG $9.2 million to commence the program. To date, HHS review of covered entities has been complaint driven. Audit protocols will be developed for covered entities and business associates. The audits will begin late this year or early 2012, and consist of as many as 150 on-site audits of entities varying in type, size, and location. These audits can result in enforcement action if violations are discovered.

To get prepared for a HIPAA audit, providers should perform an updated risk assessment and review their policies and procedures. HHS issued an audit checklist that identifies personnel who may be interviewed and documents that may be requested during an audit.

Accounting of Disclosures and Access Report

The long-anticipated rules regarding accounting of disclosures were proposed this May. There are two major changes covered entities and business associates will need to address: 1) accounting for treatment, payment, and health care operations disclosures, and 2) providing an access report.

Accounting for Disclosures

While the proposed rules broaden the accounting requirement to treatment, payment, and health care operations, HHS proposes to limit the accounting to information maintained in a designated record set for three years prior to the date of the request. There are also proposed exemptions, including, disclosures in which 
breach notice was provided; abuse or neglect reports; patient safety work product, and disclosures for research, health oversight activities, decedents, and others required by law. Keep 
in mind these exemptions may still 
be subject to the Access Report. 
Other proposed changes include decreasing response time to 30 days 
and specifically including business associates.

Access Report

This rule proposes that an individual may request a report describing who has accessed their PHI maintained in an electronic designated record set, including the date and time of access, the person or entity accessing the information, a description of the information, and what was done with the information.

Covered Entities must revise their Notice of Privacy Practices to notify individuals of their right to an accounting and an access report.

Monetary Penalties

For the first time this year, there were three major monetary penalties issued for HIPAA violations. These include a $4.3 million penalty involving failure to provide access, a $1 million penalty involving loss of PHI, and most recently an $865,500 penalty involving unauthorized employee access to electronic PHI. Another reason to update your HIPAA program!

Joy Kosiewicz is an attorney in the Health Care Group at Brouse McDowell in Akron.