Archive for month: January, 2016

Identifying vulnerabilities is a key first step, but what follows is the most important

Categories: Articles

LifeSciences_HIPAAThe old adage, “success is 2% inspiration and 98% perspiration” also applies to HIPAA Privacy and Security. It is one thing to know what you need to do, but it is another to actually follow through and do it.

With the requirements of HIPAA and Meaningful Use attestation, practice administrators are tasked with completing a Security Risk Assessment – whether done internally or through a third party. The practice usually thinks that they have done one, or plan on doing one internally or with an outsourced IT firm. However, in reality, IT folks have gone through and checked on a few hardware or network items, and either updated those items or gave the administrator a proposal to update everything. ALERT: THIS IS NOT THE SECURITY RISK ASESSMENT that HIPAA and Meaningful Use have in mind. Furthermore, and equally important, is that this process usually does not generate a Corrective Action Plan (a.k.a. Remediation Plan).

Commonly, a Corrective Action Plan is not fully understood by most healthcare organizations. A Corrective Action Plan identifies the vulnerable areas of the practice (as it relates to PHI – Protected Health Information) and provides a way to track remediation efforts.

The Corrective Action Plan is a “living document” that is reflective of the findings from the most recent Security Risk Assessment. The data of all the risk are then mapped back to the infrastructure (both IT and general) to help prioritize the fixes.  It is considered “living” because it contains tasks based on risk that need to be addressed by the practice/covered entity.  While the tasks are prioritized by risk level and impact to the organization, they generally can never be done quickly.  Therefore, the document “lives” by having the responsible person(s) updating the progress of the tasks to be completed. This process is to be iterated throughout the year until the next Security Risk Assessment is performed. At that time, a new and revised Corrective Action Plan is created.

The keys to successfully protecting PHI, is to understand how to complete a Security Risk Assessment that properly identifies the risks, and how to generate a Corrective Action Plan that prioritizes those risks. By tackling these two items, a strategy can be formed for how the majority of a covered entity’s vulnerabilities can be mitigated. Of equal importance, is making sure that someone within in the organization is following through and completing the outstanding tasks, or that you are working with someone to help you remediate them. Finally, comes updating the Corrective Action Plan in preparation for the next risk assessment.


Bill Steuer
GSG Compliance, LLC

What is the most important trait in a doctor?

Categories: Articles

What is the most important trait in a doctor?

Medical errors are estimated to be the third leading cause of death in America’s hospitals. Though some of these errors are beyond physician control, many are the direct result of physician action and inaction. I spend a lot of time thinking about how to reduce these errors and I (like many of my peers) lose sleep over the mistakes I witness.

When you ask patients what quality is most important in a physician, they often answer, “empathy.” I think that’s close, but not quite right. I know many “nice” and “supportive” doctors who have poor clinical judgment. When it comes to excellent care quality, one personality trait stands out to me — something that we don’t spend much time thinking about:


A physician with a curious mind doesn’t necessarily know all the answers. He may not be the “smartest” graduate of his medical school. But he is a great detective, and doesn’t rest until problems are solved. This particular quality isn’t nurtured in a system that rewards partial work ups, rapid patient turnover, and rushed documentation. But some doctors retain their intellectual curiosity about their patients — and to the extent that they do, I believe they can significantly reduce medical errors.

Many of the preventable adverse events I have witnessed (outside of procedure-based errors) began with warning signs that were ignored. Examples include abnormal lab tests that were not followed up in a timely manner, medication side effects that went unrecognized, copy errors in drug lists, and subtle changes in the physical exam that were presumed insignificant. All of these signs trigger the curious mind to seek out answers in time to head off problems before they evolve into real dangers.

Of course, there are other qualities that make a physician excellent: wisdom, experience, kindness, and a grounding in evidence-based practice come to mind. But without an engaged mind fueled by genuine curiosity, it’s hard to retain the vigilance required for continued good outcomes.

Curiosity may have killed a cat or two, but I’ve seen it save a large number of patients.

Val Jones is founder and CEO, Better Health.

Provided by Joshua C. Harper, CFP®, CLU®, of WealthMD (877-Our-MDPlan or

Distracted? 10 Tips for Getting Focused and Helping Your SEO Marketing Plan

Categories: Articles

Chances are that you are among the group of people who have a vision and a plan.  And chances are that you are among the group of people whose plan regularly gets interrupted or trashed because of…well…people, processes and technology that impact your job.

Whether we are doing an SEO campaign, testing a new Google AdWords campaign, or managing an email program, our days are full of distractions.  There are 36 million web pages discussing distractions by phone, by email, by text…. And of course there is a quiz about distractions to distract you.

Getting new customers, clients, or patients is an ongoing activity. While you can skip a day, it needs constant care and feeding.  So here are tips for keeping you focused from our friends at LifeHack, which can be applied to making your SEO campaign pop, your Google AdWords campaign ring, and your social media program purr.

1. Keep your vision/goals in mind

If you don’t have goals for your business, how do you know what you want to accomplish?  Does your SEO program need to have you generate traffic for 1, 5 or 50 keywords?  Does your Google AdWords campaign generate conversions, or just clicks?

2. Reduce the chaos of your day by focusing on 2-3 important tasks 

Remember Stephen Covey’s advice, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing”? Marketing programs have objectives and ROI.  If you are checking an SEO program report, you know what actions are needed — more content, more backlinks, more reviews.  Or you may be waiting a few weeks to see the impact of your SEO efforts, and you can focus on other priorities today.

3. Do those tasks as soon as possible 

Science studies show that you are most alert in the morning, even if you need a cup of coffee for a kick-start.  Two reasons to do the important things first:  you are at your best and you’ll not be stressed during the day that they aren’t done.  Plus, there will be distractions during your day, so start as soon as possible.  Every delay of a social media or SEO campaign content post is a missed client or customer opportunity.

4. Focus on only the smallest part of your work at a time

Having the big giant goal that takes weeks and months can kill your motivation.  It can be discouraging.  Instead, remember the advice, “How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.”  Focus on doing small, manageable amounts of work instead.   If your SEO program includes writing 4 blog posts, plan to write the first draft of the first post.  You’ve moved your SEO program forward in 30 or 50 minute increments.  If your marketing program includes getting backlinks, select 1 target today; you can pick the next target tomorrow.

5. Visualize yourself working 

While visualization techniques can be distracting, visualizing yourself actually doing the work (and enjoying it) can keep you focused.  Runners often visual themselves winning — the result — instead, image yourself sitting, standing, talking, writing, analyzing, brainstorming, sharing.  Think of your goal (see #1), select the prioritized task (see #2), and visualize yourself doing a piece of it (see #4).  Relax.  You know your marketing strategy and you know your business. Now visualize yourself executing an SEO program tactic or seeing data from your SEO campaign report.  Aaaah.

Look for our February blog post for an additional 5 tips.  In the meantime, NicheLabs invites a conversation with you about what’s working and what’s not working with your SEO program, Google AdWords, Facebook and LinkedIn paid ad campaigns as well as your website design and social media program.  Reach out to us with our website contact form or by calling 888.978.9254.

And if you need a break from the stress, please check out our client’s Mental Spa Moments.

Provided by Hal Schlenger of NicheLabs, (770-335-0077 or

COLA Increases for Dollar Limitations on Benefits and Contributions

Categories: Articles

The tax law places limits on the dollar amount of contributions to retirement plans and IRAs and the amount of benefits under a pension plan. IRC Section 415 requires the limits to be adjusted annually for cost-of-living increases.


2016 2015 2014


IRA Contribution Limit $5,500 $5,500 $5,500
IRA Catch-Up Contributions 1,000 1,000 1,000

IRA AGI Deduction Phase-out Starting at

Joint Return 98,000 98,000 96,000
Single or Head of Household 61,000 61,000 60,000


SEP Minimum Compensation 600 600 550
SEP Maximum Contribution 53,000 53,000 52,000
SEP Maximum Compensation 265,000 265,000 260,000


SIMPLE Maximum Contributions 12,500 12,500 12,000
Catch-up Contributions 3,000 3,000 2,500

401(k), 403(b), Profit-Sharing Plans, etc.

Annual Compensation 265,000 265,000 260,000
Elective Deferrals 18,000 18,000 17,500
Catch-up Contributions 6,000 6,000 5,500
Defined Contribution Limits 53,000 53,000 52,000
ESOP Limits 1,070,000210,000 1,070,000210,000 1,050,000210,000


HCE Threshold 120,000 120,000 115,000
Defined Benefit Limits 210,000 210,000 210,000
Key Employee 170,000 170,000 170,000
457 Elective Deferrals 18,000 18,000 17,500
Control Employee (board member or officer) 105,000 105,000 105,000
Control Employee (compensation-based) 215,000 215,000 210,000
Taxable Wage Base 118,500 118,500 117,000

Provided by Joshua C. Harper, CFP®, CLU®, of WealthMD (877-Our-MDPlan or

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