Archive for category: Articles

‘Ban the Box’ is Most Likely Coming Soon to an Employer Near You

Categories: Articles

According to the National Employment Law Project (NELP), three-fourths of the U.S. population lives in a community that has banned the box. This leads to the question of “Can you legally ask an applicant if he or she has ever been convicted of a crime or involved in any illegal criminal activity,” during a job interview?

The answer is both “yes,” and “no.” It’s complicated. Can you legally include this question on a job application where an applicant has to click the box regarding having a criminal background? Currently you can—in *some states and municipalities, based on private or public entities.

**On the Public Level, over 150 counties and cities and 35 states (at the time of this writing) have initiated the “ban the box” movement in an effort to allow job candidates a fair chance of becoming employed. Depending on the state, county, or municipality’s laws, the candidate may not be questioned about his or her criminal background until later in the hiring process, generally after a firm offer has been made, or sometimes after a second interview where the question may be asked or a criminal background check may or may not be performed (again, this depends on your state or local laws).

**In the Private Sector, 18 counties and cities and 12 states (at the time of this writing) have extended the fair-chance laws to ban the box among them. This is all in an effort to give a potential employee a chance to prove to the employer that he or she is qualified for the position. In the past, most employers would look at the check mark in the box, and make a snap judgement based solely on that and move on to the next applicant before a fair chance was given.

So, what does happen when a potential employee applies for a position and you are genuinely interested in them, only to discover during a criminal background check that he or she has a criminal record? This is up to you. According to a *“SHRM” article dated November 12, 2018, “The dilemma for HR and hiring managers lies in finding the balance between giving applicants with a criminal history a chance to be evaluated on their qualifications and being liable for negligent hiring.”

As the ban the box movement progresses, and it is, things can get even more complicated for employers and the hiring process. It’s a little-known fact that this movement has been around for the past 20 years, but it is gaining momentum as time goes by. These days, more than ever, Human Resources has their work cut out for them, and if you don’t currently have an HR department or someone certified in HR at your disposal, it is imperative that you seek out a reputable HR company like Stellaris Group in Roswell, Georgia.

Stellaris Group is well-versed about Government Compliances, Recruiting and Hiring, Employee and Labor Relations, and day-to-day HR management. If you need to know what you can or can’t do as a business owner or an employer, you can count on Stellaris Group to keep you in the know.

Dawn Stastny, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is the Managing Partner and Founder of Stellaris Group, LLC. To learn more about Human Resources Outsourcing and Consulting, connect with her at 678-935-6001 or by email at Dawn.Stastny@Stellaris.Co

*https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/legal-and-compliance/state-and-local-updates/xperthr/pages/ban-the-box-laws-by-state-and-municipality-.aspx

**https://www.nelp.org/publication/ban-the-box-fair-chance-hiring-state-and-local-guide/#Chart_of_Local_Fair_Chance_Policies

CMS and The Office of Civil Rights takes another step in enforcing HIPAA activities by launching “ASETT”

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The new program is called ASETTAdministration Simplification Enforcement and Testing Tool.

This is a web based platform is for individuals or organizations to file complaints for potential non-compliance with the non-Privacy/Security provisions of HIPAA. CMS is making an effort to make the “whistle blowing “ process easier for the general public. A streamlined process to allow patients to report what they feel is a violation or misstep with their PHi and the like.

The ASETT system securely captures demographic information about the complainant and the filed-against entity, as well as details of the alleged violation, and any supporting documentation provided by the complainant and the filed-against entity. When filing a complaint, the complainant has the option to remain anonymous to the filed-against entity.

Complainants are urged to provide as much detail as possible to justify and support the allegations, and to ensure that accurate contact information is provided for the filed against entity (full names, titles, phone numbers, and email addresses). Each complaint is reviewed for validity and completeness to ensure that it can be processed.  The site offers Tips to assist the accuser in documenting their compliant. (ie. Add Supporting Attachments to support your complaint. Test Transactions to support Transaction violations)

Once the contact information for the complainant and the information against entity is verified and validated, CMS will officially open a complaint. CMS will contact the filed-against entity by phone/email to notify them of the allegations and to advise them that a letter will be sent with complaint details and a request for follow-up. This exchange permits the filed-against entity to evaluate the information, conduct an internal investigation, and either dispute the allegations or develop a response indicating how the issue will be corrected.

The correction can be done either immediately by their staff,  or through a process outlined by a formal Corrective Action Plan (CAP).

The CAP is created out of performing a Security Risk Assessment and documenting those items that need to be addressed/mitigated. CAPs are considered a “working or live” document since it should be referred to and updated throughout the year. Just about any audit that a covered entity will be faced with will include the delivery of a current Corrective Action Plan.

One of our services includes examining a covered entities current CAP (and Risk Assessment), to help them better understand those how to mitigate those specific risks, and help them prioritize with a plan forward. If you need additional information, feel free to contact us at www.gsgcompliance.com  or 877-270-8306.

You can find more information about the ASETT web based tool with the link below.

https://asett.cms.gov/ASETT_HomePage

Healthcare’s number one financial issue is cybersecurity

Categories: Articles

 

The cost of a healthcare breach is about $408 per patient record and that doesn’t include the loss of business, productivity and reputation.

Tuesday July 30, 2019

By:  Susan Morse, Senior Editor, Healthcare Finance

 

Cyber attacks affect the finances of every hospital and insurer like no other.

“I’ve seen estimates of over $5 billion in costs to the healthcare industry annually,” said Lisa Rivera, a partner at Bass, Berry and Sims who focuses on healthcare security. “That’s enormous and is not going away.”

Beyond the cost to find a solution to fix breaches and to settle any civil complaints are fines from the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights. In 2018, OCR issued 10 resolutions that totaled $28 million.

The HHS Office of Civil Rights is stepping up breach enforcement of private health information, according to Rivera, who is a former assistant U.S. Attorney and federal prosecutor handling civil and criminal investigations for the Department of Justice.

What officials want to see is that the hospital or insurer has taken reasonable efforts to avoid a breach.

“There is no perfect cybersecurity,” Rivera said. “They say it’s not perfection, it’s reasonable efforts. That’s going to require an investment up-front to see where data is located, and educating the workforce on phishing incidents.”

Also, hospital finance professionals who are relying more on contractors for revenue cycle management and analytics should take note on the security issues involved in sharing this information.

“Every sector of business has attacks, but healthcare is experiencing the largest growth of cyber attacks because of the nature of its information,” Rivera said. “It’s more valuable on the dark web.”

It’s also not easily fixed.

If an individual’s credit card is stolen, the consumer can cancel his or her credit card. But in health records, the damage is permanent.

THE IMPACT

Despite the number of breaches, healthcare has been behind other sectors in taking security measures. Four to seven percent of a health system’s IT budget is in cybersecurity, compared to about 15% for other sectors such as the financial industry, according to Rivera.

Hospitals are behind because first, it’s a challenge to keep up with the move to more information being in electronic form.

“There’s no hospital that doesn’t have mobile EHR information,” Rivera said. “Then there was this transition with incentives from the government to go to electronic medical records. There were vast routes to doing that without a lot of experience involved in doing it. The push to become electronic began happening with this enormous uptick in cyber attacks.”

Also, the focus of healthcare has always been patient care. The population health explosion also involves the sharing of information.

And consolidation across the healthcare industry can potentially make covered entities more vulnerable to lapses in security during the transition and integration phases.

RECOMMENDATIONS

The number one way to cut costs is to prevent a breach. Once one has happened, hospitals must be able to identify it as soon as possible and then be able to respond to it.

Hospitals should be able to determine where certain data goes off the rail, Rivera said. For instance, large systems doing research have outcome information that may not be within the system of protection.

“You don’t want to learn about a data breach because the FBI saw it on the dark web,” Rivera said. And some hospitals have.

It’s a constant battle of software updates and checks. Criminals are pinging systems thousands of times a day. It’s like locking down doors and windows.

The first thing that’s needed for systems large and small is a risk assessment. This is the first thing the OCR wants to see, she said. Many hospitals use an outside vendor to do the job.

Prices for other cybersecurity measures vary from a software purchase that could be in the millions, to having vendor monitoring.

But the cost of a healthcare breach is about $408 per patient record and that doesn’t include the loss of business, productivity, reputation and the service disruption.

Hospitals can also purchase cyber insurance, which varies in cost and coverage. Some obtain it for purposes of class action lawsuits.

THE LARGER TREND

OCR enforcement activity during 2018 demonstrates the agency’s continued emphasis on enforcing violations of the security risk assessment and risk management requirements, Rivera said.

Covered entities and business associates are required to: conduct a thorough assessment of the threats and vulnerabilities across the enterprise;    implement measures to reduce known threats and vulnerabilities to a reasonable and appropriate level; and ensure that any vendor or other organization accessing or storing private health information is security compliant.

The OCR concluded 2018 with an all-time record year for HIPAA enforcement activity. The OCR settled 10 cases and secured one judgment, together totaling $28.7 million. This surpassed the previous record of $23.5 million from 2016.

In addition, OCR also achieved the single largest individual HIPAA settlement of $16 million with Anthem, representing a nearly three-fold increase over the previous record settlement of $5.5 million in 2016. Anthem was held responsible for cyber attacks that stole the protected health information of close to 79 million people.

Article provided by Stephen Bradley

Things to Remember When You Have a Lease Coming Up for Renewal

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THINGS TO REMEMBER prior to a lease renewal.
1. Create or have a LEASE ABSTACT prepared at lease expiration.
2. Give yourself TIME prior to expiration.
3. Consider ALTERNATIVES to your current space.
4. THINK LONG TERM as well as short term.
5. REVIEW the LEASE DOCUMENT even if you renew.
6. Use the renewal or relocation as a time to RETHINK OFFICE OPERATION.

LEASE EXPIRATION STARTS AT THE LEASE EXECUTION.
Planning for your next lease expiration starts early at the execution of the lease. Shortly
after lease execution you should prepare or have a professional prepare a lease abstract. A
lease abstract is synopsis of the most significant terms of the lease including information
on any expansion and renewal options. The information on expansion options will
include the notice that must be given the renewal option and the terms which were agreed
to in the original lease. Use this document as reference for your path as you approach
lease expiration.

GIVE YOURSELF TIME PRIOR TO LEASE EXPIRATION.
Make sure that you start the process early enough so that you will have enough time to
properly evaluate alternatives prior to any notice which must be given for a renewal
option, which is included in the original lease. Don’t create a scenario where you have
too little time to do a proper evaluation all of your available alternatives. As with
anything else, it is always better to have too much as opposed to too little time. If you
start too early you can always slow down but if you start too late the advantage goes to
the Landlord, which is never a good idea. How much time is enough? To figure this out
in your particular situation, estimate how much time you realistically need for each
component of the search, taking into account that this will not be your only activity.
There will need to be 1) time to review your lease abstract to determine the terms
available in your current lease, 2) time to look at the market and assemble good
alternatives, 3) time to tour those alternatives, 4) time to request and receive proposals,
5) time for lease negotiation and 6) time for any buildout, which might be required either
at your current space or at another building of your choosing. In the case of a 5,000 sf
lease space, you should figure on 30 days to review your lease abstract and determine
what options are available. It is a good idea to find five or six options which might work.
Allow a minimum of 30 days to work thru those options which would include doing test
fits on the top two or three options. Efficiencies differ between different buildings and
floorplates.

CONSIDER ALTERNATIVES TO YOUR CURRENT SPACE.
Take the time or hire a professional medical office broker to find a reasonable number of
alternatives. Once you have identified five or six possibilities, tour those alternatives
paying particular attention to such thing as visual appeal of the building ingress and

egress to and from the building, the total number of parking spaces available in the
building (minimum 4 spaces per 1,000 square feet of leased area but ideally 5 or 5 per
1,000). Parking is the silent killer of a practice. If there aren’t enough spaces it will cause
patients to be late for their appointment, it will create angst on their part as they drive
around looking for a space, further aggravated as they are harassed by staff for being late
to the appointment. They may not complain to the practice but just not come back. Once
you have toured the options, made notes on what you have seen to keep the details of the
alternatives straight. Send out requests for proposal (RFPs) to each, telling them what
information you want. The idea behind an RFP is to get identical information from each
option so that you can make an apples to apples comparison. Remember that despite your
best efforts landlords will always respond in such a way as to accentuate the positive and
minimize the negative aspects of their property. To the extent they are successful, this
makes the job of comparing alternatives more difficult. Once you receive the proposals,
from the options you will want to put the competing buildings on a spreadsheet and
compare them both in terms of their economics and the more subjective issues such as
appearance, ingress/egress and parking.

THINK LONG TERM RATHER THAN JUST SHORT TERM.
Concurrent with requesting RFPs you will want to do test fits with the best two or three
options. This will allow you to compare layouts, highlighting their relative efficiencies.
In commissioning a test fit look long term, considering the things which currently work
in your space and those things that don’t. Think long term. Consider the number of exam
rooms? Consider the seating in the reception area. Have the practice consider whether it
wishes to use a “pod concept” where the exam rooms serving a particular doctor, the
doctor’s office and the doctors nurse or nurses are all bunched together in a pod; or the
concept which seems to be more favored in the current changing medical environment
which is to have all of the exam rooms together with the nurses station and have the
doctors all together apart from the exams, using charting stations interspersed among the
exam rooms.

REVIEW THE LEASE DOCUMENT EVEN IF YOU ARE GOING TO RENEW.
Many practices are content to just sign an amendment renewing their existing lease
without looking back at the original lease. You should always review your existing lease
to become reacquainted with what was agreed 3, 5 or even 10 years earlier. The times are
always a changing, healthcare has changed and will continue to change. Your practice’s
situation has most likely also changed in those intervening years. Management may also
have changed and the direction and focus of new management may be different. For all
these reasons you need to review the original lease with a lawyer and or a real estate
professional to determine how your current space may address the current objectives and
focus.

USE THE RENEWAL, RELOCATION OR SEARCH FOR A SATELLITE
OFFICE AS A TIME RETHINK YOUR OFFICE OPERATION.
In the case of a satellite certainly, but even in a renewal your office staff may have
grown. This becomes a good opportunity or even a necessity to review aspects of practice
operation. You may decide to tackle this on your own but as you know there are a variety
of vendors who are positioned to look at the various aspects of such a review.

Submitted by Stan Sharp, HealthOne Realty Advisors

ssharp@healthonerealty.com

www.healthonerealty.com

Is it safe to trade-in an old device?

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Did you know that more data has been created during the past two years than in the entire previous history of humanity?

The world population is currently about 7.7 billion people and experts believe that by the year 2020, about 1.7 megabytes of new information will be created every second for each human being on the planet.

We are also seeing a huge growth in video and photographic data. Every minute up to 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube alone.

Nearly 80% of pictures are now taken on smart phones. We take over 1 trillion photos annually and share billions of them online.

In 2018 alone, roughly 400 million computing devices were shipped globally.

Because of the rapid evolution of technology, many used devices are being exchanged or recycled on the secondary market; often stimulated by financial incentives to “trade-up” to a faster or smarter device or by electronics recyclers offering to take old computers and other hardware from businesses at no charge.

Some people bring their devices to “free”

neighborhood electronics recycling events.

But, have you thought carefully about what happens to the residual data left on your old computer, tablet or cell phone? Are you confident that the people taking your old

 

hardware will securely destroy your personal information before reselling your device?

A recent study revealed that 7 out of 10 used devices contained Personally Identifiable Information (PII), including: online banking credentials, private pictures, voter and other government ID cards, social security numbers, biometrics, etc.

Did you know that re-initializing a device to factory settings does not overwrite stored data?

Removing residual data from hard drives, memory cards and cell phones is a time- consuming, costly, manual procedure. Most electronics intermediaries are not trained, equipped or motivated to do it correctly.

Are you willing to take the risk of suffering a residual data breach?

Shredding is a more permanent solution. A trustworthy shredding company can:

  • Offer On-Site hard drive shredding service, reducing your risk by shredding your hard drives right in front of you.
  • Provide a Certificate of Destruction with the serial number of each hard drive, tablet or cell phone that was shred, should you need to demonstrate your thoroughness in the future.
  • Demonstrate their operating and hiring practices are externally audited and certified by NAID (National Association of Information Destruction) and ISO (International Standards Organization)
  • Document the recycling of the shredded remnant of your devices through R2 certified vendors that achieve high standards in the industrial re-use of recycled material.

For more information, contact Greg Gálvez at greg.galvez@proshred.com or 678-580-1155

Scamming Techniques: 5 Examples and How to Avoid Them

Categories: Articles

E-mail Popup Warning Window Concept

It comes as no surprise that not everyone out there is acting in the best interest of your business. If you’re the owner of any type of business, no matter how big or small, odds are someone has attempted to scam you and your company.

It’s not a great feeling either, and unfortunately, scammers are getting more and more creative and their techniques are becoming more and more sophisticated.

Luckily, people are becoming more aware of scammers, and defensive technologies against them are becoming better too.

To help make sure that you’re a step ahead of would-be scammers, here are a few of the most popular scamming techniques and how to identify them.

Hacking

Hacking is what happens when a scammer attempts to gain access to personal information your company possesses. To do this, they’ll use some sort of technology to break into your network.

This is the area where most scammers are progressing at a fast rate in terms of skill. That makes it all the more important to ensure that you have the proper cybersecurity strategies and practices in place that can alert you of a data breach.

Some tell-tale signs that someone is attempting to hack into your systems are: 

  • Files have been removed
  • Pop-ups on your computer screen
  • An unexpectedly large phone or internet bill
  • Unable to log on to certain accounts

 

Phishing

Phishing has been around for a while and takes the form of emails, where the sender is trying to get sensitive information from the recipient. They pose as a legitimate company, and they may try such tricks as saying that your account has been hacked and that you need to reply with password and username to gain control again.

This can be detrimental to the individual who is preyed upon, as well as the company they work for. If a scammer can successfully trick an employee, then they are well on their way to gaining more information on the company they work for.

The following are signs that someone may be phishing you: 

  • The emails are nosy and have suspicious requests
  • Grammatical errors in the email
  • Wrong or missing recipient on the email

Malware and Ransomware

If you’ve ever gotten a sketchy pop-up that tells you to download something…then you may have had an encounter with malware. Malware scams attempt to trick you into installing software that scammers can then use to access your files.

On the flip side, ransomware is a type of malware that may block you from accessing certain files or even your computer altogether. As the name implies, if you want to get that access back from the scammer, you’ll have to pay them a certain amount of money.

Look for these signs to avoid malware and ransomware: 

  • An excessive amount of pop-ups and your computer is a lot slower after encountering them
  • There are new icons on your desktop
  • Your computer randomly starts to download software without your direction

 

Investment Scams

Investment scams are different than the previous techniques listed. Instead of using technology to try and trick you or access your files, investment scams may occur when speaking with the actual scammer.

Most commonly, this will come in the form of a cold call from someone offering unsolicited advice or investments. When you receive these phone calls or emails, just hang up or don’t respond.

Ways to tell if an “investment opportunity” is indeed a scam: 

  • You receive repeated calls or emails from someone offering an investment opportunity
  • You are invited to attend a free seminar, but follow-up seminars are high in terms of cost
  • The email or phone call incorporates risk-free investments or a similar promise

 

False Billings

False billings are used to try and get you to pay for a service that you never actually signed up for. Scammers who use this tactic rely on the fact that someone who is in charge of admin duties, such as a receptionist, may not be completely up-to-date on what the company has been doing in terms of advertising or promotional initiatives.

They may call or send a letter trying to get you to pay for a fake business directory or to renew your domain name.

Signs to look for when it comes to false billing scams: 

  • You receive an invoice from a directory or publication you’ve never heard of, and they ask you to confirm an entry or advertisement
  • The caller cites the government as a reason your company needs to be listed on their register
  • You receive an unexpectedly high invoice for domain registration or is registered with a different company

 

Need Help Staying Scam Free? Call Medicus IT

At Medicus IT, we work with clients to run phishing scam simulations to determine vulnerabilities within your organization and see where your employees need additional scam-avoidance training.

For those in the medical field, we also specialize in HIPAA and will work with or provide third-party compliance consultants to conduct risk assessments for your practice. It is only through regular assessments and testing that you can ensure that you are minimizing your exposure to attack so that your electronic patient health information (ePHI) is safe and secure.

Contact us today to ensure that your business is protected from scammers.

By: Medicus IT
www.MedicusIT.com
678-495-5900

 

When practices come to us for help transitioning off their software many ask “What are the best practices for switching EHRs?”

Categories: Articles

If you’re thinking about changing your software you’re not alone. According to the Medical Economics 2017 EHR Report Card, 62 percent of physician respondents indicated that they had already switched EHR systems at some point. High level physicians and admins almost always begin the transition process by asking “What are the best practices for switching EHRs?”

The marketplace has partially answered where to start with an EHR switch, practices are demanding more user-friendly EHRs that offer better interoperability. In other instances, practices are searching for specific functionality to help them thrive. Often, the need to switch EHRs is driven by frustration that your current software impedes rather than speeds your workflow.

Undertaking an EHR switch can feel daunting—after all, it’s a big investment. You may be wondering:

  • How do I identify the need for an EHR switch?
  • What steps should I take to find the right vendor for my practice?
  • How can I best prepare my practice to make this change?

To help you on your journey, the following are our best practices for switching to a new EHR.

Focus on your functional requirements

Consider your daily workflow. What types of capabilities does your practice need from an EHR? Of course, physicians want mobile capabilities, e-prescribing and integration with billing systems but it’s also important to look at the functional needs of your specific practice. List each functionality you want and create a scorecard to rate how well each vendor’s solution can meet your needs. Be sure to ask for input from people in a variety of roles at your practice.

Keep emerging needs in mind

Identify EHR software that helps you use data analytics to benefit both your patients and your practice. From population health management to merit-based incentive payment system (MIPS) reporting that helps practices receive reimbursement for value-based care, your EHR’s capabilities should offer both the tools and the interfaces that allow you to leverage the power of data. Your practice will also want an EHR with strong internal reporting functionality that allows you to create custom queries and leverage your data in the real world.

Be sure you’re in a position to Promote Interoperability

When evaluating new EHR software, ask how the candidate system operates with regard to interfaces with labs and hospitals in your area, how well it handles referral management, and does it support the newer initiatives evolving for on demand data requests such as Commonwell, Carequality, and Surescripts National Record Locator and Exchange. This is important with regard to the CMS Promoting Interoperability, a component of MIPS, compliance guidelines. You can read more about how we help our practices with MACRA/MIPS here.

Seek a vendor with a proven track record of success

Identify potential EHR vendors by reviewing published ranking lists and awards from third parties such as KLAS Research. Insight from your peers is also valuable and can be attained by attending industry conferences, or talking to other physicians in your specialty.

Verify ease-of-use

An EHR that checks all the boxes on paper may not necessarily perform to your expectations in practice. When you demo the system, make sure it fits into YOUR workflow versus changing how you practice to accommodate the software. A great EHR is designed with the user in mind, helping you work the way you want to and reducing the time you spend on routine tasks.

Enlist a variety of power users to give the EHR a test drive

A system that works well for a physician may have shortcomings that only the administrative or billing staff can detect. Conversely, the same EHR that your office manager loves, may also be the EHR the physician loathes. After you’ve developed a shortlist of EHR products to test, gather people from different areas of your practice to test the EHR for issues. Be sure everyone is on board with the same EHR before making your final decision. Keep in mind that not everyone may get exactly what they want, a little give and take may be necessary in choosing the best solution overall for the organization.

Confirm the availability of responsive customer support

When you have questions concerning your EHR, you want answers as quickly as possible. Ask EHR vendors whether they have a U.S.-based support team available during regular office hours and, again, look at published lists and rankings that detail the vendor’s approach to support.

Don’t skimp on training

Proper training is essential for every EHR user. Not only can it help reduce the frustration of adapting to a new system, it can help users become proficient more quickly—lessening the impact on your practice and patients. The vendor you choose should offer robust training options to help you experience a smooth implementation. Although everyone who uses the system must attend training, it is also valuable to select a person or persons depending on the size of your practice to be a “super-user” who will cross train on clinical, billing, and admin capabilities.

Invest in long-term gain

Although switching your practice’s EHR system is a major undertaking, the gains achieved by increased interoperability, more easily sharing patient data and reducing administrative workload can reap long-term benefits. Find the EHR that’s the right fit for your practice and focus on the future. Also be sure to consider the experience of the potential vendors in assisting practices in making a change. The path to successful change can be bumpy, but experience and proven processes can avoid many of the potholes along the way.

Your next step is to add Aprima to your shortlist. Our track record of industry praise, long-term client retention (98% of practices have remained customers after 10 years!), and expertise in helping practices switch EHRs make Aprima an EHR you should know!

 

Tri-Med Solutions, Inc.

Bart Segal

770-579-0719
bsegal@trimedsolutions.net

 

20 Things We Should Never Say to a Graphic Designer – But We’re Often Asked to by Customers

Categories: Articles

#2 of a 4 part series… part 1

Graphic designers can be hard to communicate with. That’s the reason we communicate with them on our customer’s behalf.

Having worked with designers for about 25 years, it helps that we know the right kind of questions that will move the project along and create a final product that everyone will be happy with. They expend time and energy to come up with ideas, concepts and designs to achieve their goals. Sometimes, our customers will ask us to ask our designers questions that bring the project to a crashing halt, with incorrect assumptions about the design process.

  1. Don’t say: “Can I make just one more change? I promise it’s the last one.”

We are fairly certain that there will probably be other changes after this one. After all, you’ve asked for multiple tweaks already. So let’s just be upfront about it and nicely, apologetically say something like: “I’m so sorry to keep taking up your time like this, but I found another change I’d like to make. Can you change this [word / font / graphic / color]? Feel free to add the extra time for these edits to your invoice.” Graphic designers are short on time just like you are, and although they do want to help you make sure the design fits your needs, they also appreciate the acknowledgement that their time is valuable. So next time, try compiling a list of all the changes you’d like to make and hand them over all at once, which is more efficient for everyone.

  1. Don’t say: Can you do something that looks exactly like [this other designer’s work]?”                                                                                                                    ­­­

Aside from copyright issues (and possible legal consequences), this should be a matter of ethics. No designer should be okay with copying another artist’s work outright, and you shouldn’t expect them to. Instead, try pointing out what you like about the design specifically, and ask your designer to do their own take on the style or try certain elements inspired by the work, like a color scheme, basic layout, or general aesthetic (clean, vintage, bold, etc.)

  1. Don’t say: “Can you use this image I found online?”

Turning to Google for images can backfire in a number of ways. For one, like the previous point, you could run into legal trouble for using a copyrighted image — one that’s not licensed for personal or commercial use. Additionally, it’s likely that the image won’t even look good in your design, or print cleanly, because the resolution is too low. If you’re looking for an alternative to paying for stock photos, there is an increasing number of sources where you can find quality, free stock photos.

  1. Don’t say: “Can you have this done by tomorrow?

Graphic design isn’t an instant process that is done with a few clicks of a mouse. Every project will have its own process and time requirements. Realistically, some designs can be whipped out in a day, while others will take much, much longer. It completely depends on the project (and the designer’s creative process). We usually let him or her know about any time constraints and ask for a realistic estimate on how long the design will take.

 

  1. Don’t say: “I know someone who works for half that. Could you lower your rate to match?”

Why? Designers set their prices based on multiple components: geography, cost of living, style, skill, experience, and many more. Every designer will have a different combination of strengths and abilities to offer, and there’s no special formula for determining if a designer’s rate is competitive or “fair.” Generally, though, we get what we pay for — so we encourage our clients and prospects to decide what characteristics are most valuable to in the design process (speed? quality? originality? cost? personality?). That’s not to say price negotiation is not an option, but if our first encounter with one of our designers on a particular project is an effort to “lowball” their rate —while expecting the same quality of work — that will be an immediate turnoff, and is disrespectful to the designer, and to us. As with most things…there is always someone who can do it cheaper.

 

Submitted by Sheila Fox-Lovell from Shandy Creative Solutions

sheila@shandycreative.com

770.951.0305

Retirement Through The Decades

Categories: Articles

‘Retirement’ is defined, according to the Merriam Webster dictionary, as the withdrawal from one’s position or occupation or from active working life. Depending upon your age bracket, the word retirement conjures up different meanings and different emotions. And the age in which one will retire differs just as much as the images of what one will do once they are no longer in the workforce. Retirement viewed through the decades:

During your 30s:

Individuals in their 30s have watched their parents save and because they are now years into their own careers are doing a reasonable job of saving. According to the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, seventy-six percent are saving for retirement and thirty percent who participate in their 401(k) or similar type plan are contributing more than 10 percent of their annual pay.

During your 40s:

This age bracket of individuals begins to feel the pressure of the looming word ‘retirement.’ Fortysomething individuals are often referred to as the ‘sandwich generation’ – they may be responsible for the care of aging parents while working and juggling their own families and kids. This busy lifestyle leaves many feeling like their life is a constant hamster wheel. Only 10 percent are very confident that they will be able to retire with a comfortable lifestyle. Twenty-two percent state that paying off credit card debt is their greatest financial priority. Although this age cohort is often frazzled with what life is throwing at them, they are usually a focused group as eighty-two percent of those who are offered a 401(k) plan are participating.

During your 50s:

During your 50s many are well into their careers and beginning to realize they may live a lot longer. It is important at this stage of life to contribute as much as you can to your 401(k) and if possible, capitalize on the catch-up provisions which allow additional contributions to your employer-sponsored plans if you are over age 50. Now is the time to also pay down any debt you may have incurred over the years. Ideally, you want to enter your 60s debt free. For many families, by the time you reach your mid 50s, kids are leaving the house which may provide more disposable income. Close to 60 percent reported they plan to work past age 65 years old. This is most likely due to the fact that only 45 percent believe they are building a large enough retirement nest egg.

During your 60s:

People are living well into their 80s and 90s. This generation of adults are forced to think about the looming question – “What will retirement look like financially, socially, emotionally and physically?” Forty-seven percent of sixty-somethings expect Social Security to be their primary source of income when they retire. And a little over half of this age cohort (52 percent) plan to continue working after they retire with their top two reasons being income and health benefits.

Building a retirement income strategy is one of the most productive actions you can take to feel more confident with your financial future. The mindset you have and the strategies you engage regarding your current finances change as you move through each decade of your life. During your 30s, retirement may seem far off, however, it is the perfect time to begin making minor adjustments to your savings which can have a potentially major impact on your confidence level during your later decades.

*Statistics cited in the blog are based upon a Retirement Throughout the Ages: Expectations and Preparations of American Workers May 2015 survey from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies®.

Joel Johnson Contributor

I am a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional and the managing partner at Johnson Brunetti, a Retirement and Investment firm that specializes in working with retirees…

Article submitted by Joshua C. Harper, CFP®, ChFC®, CLU®, RICP®

Millenial Nurses: A Dynamic Influence on the Profession

Categories: Articles

Like generations before them, Millennials (ages 19-36) are making their own unique and indelible mark on our society. Coming of age with the internet, social media, mobile communication, and changing societal dynamics, Millennials seem to hold very different expectations from previous generations – and they assume that their contributions will be different, too. These characteristics may be magnified in the nursing workforce, because this helping and caring profession always demands an extraordinary level of individual commitment. Millennial nurses are bringing a dynamic new perspective on such factors as career, leadership, education, and work environment.

These viewpoints are reflected in the data from the AMN Healthcare 2017 Survey of Registered Nurses. This report, Survey of Millennial Nurses: A Dynamic Influence on the Profession, extracts and examines responses from Millennial nurses contained in the 2017 RN Survey and compares them with responses from Generation X or Gen X (ages 37-53) and Baby Boomer nurses (ages 54-71). The results paint a portrait of a generation that rewrites the rules on nurse work environment expectations.

Millennials are often looking to better themselves through education or job changes, and they are more trusting of leadership than are older nurses. They also have distinct expectations about what constitutes a good working environment and how that can positively affect patient care. Among these expectations are professional development opportunities, transparent quality measures, a positive culture, and earnestly supportive leadership.

As the healthcare industry continues to face unprecedented shortages of qualified nurses, the insights from this report could prove valuable to healthcare leaders. By better understanding the viewpoints and desires of Millennial nurses regarding their profession, healthcare organizations can be better prepared to attract and retain nurses from the generational segment that is taking over the nursing workforce.

KEY FINDINGS

CAREER PLANS

  • Will look for new nurse job: 17% Millennials, 15% Gen Xers, 10% Baby Boomers
  • Become Advanced Practice RN: 49% Millennials, 35% Gen Xers, 12% Baby Boomers
  • Work as travel nurse: 10% Millennials, 6% Gen Xers, 5% Baby Boomers
  • Seek leadership role: 36% Millennials, 27% Gen Xers, 10% Baby Boomers
  • Pursue higher degree: 71% Millennials, 56% Gen Xers, 20% Baby Boomers

The Avery Difference

At Avery Partners, we are different in that we take all the risk. We meet each of our candidates face to face for the interview to make sure they are the best fit for the job. These candidates are also OUR employees. We manage all their paperwork, applications, check references, federal verification and tax forms, background checks, drug screenings, pay-records, taxes, etc. This takes the hassle off your company and staff so that you can do what you do best.

Please contact Jennifer Hall for more information at the office (770) 642-6100 x237 or email Jennifer.Hall@AveryPartners.com

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