Email Messages and HIPAA Electronic mail messages

Email Messages and HIPAA Electronic mail messages (”email”) is an economical and timely manner for doctors and patients to communicate with each other and is discussed in the Code of Federal Regulations, 45 CFR 164 522 (b). The prevailing principle is that covered entities (doctors) are not restricted from using email to leave messages for appointments or dispensing of product, but that the content of the message must be “the minimal necessary amount”. However, if the patient specifically restricts email or phone messages, the doctor cannot still use those channels to communicate with the patient. The next question is whether all email from a doctor needs to be secure. In most cases, if the patient authorizes the doctor, the doctor can use email to send a message to a patient. It is not required that all correspondence between a doctor and patient be secure, but ensuring that the doctor might unintentionally release protected health information (PHI), the doctor should consider using only secure email. A popular program, Google Mail (also known as “GMail”) is not HIPAA compliant because it relies solely on Secure Socket Layer (SSL) as the form of encryption. This makes the transport secure but not the content. HIPAA requires the content to also be secure which what encryption of the content will do. There are a number of encrypted email providers that meet the HIPAA requirements and can be found through a query on the Internet. An example of minimum necessary information through an insecure email or unencrypted email content is “Ms. Smith, please call (123) 456-7890 Dr. ABC” . The doctor should avoid saying what the call is for or by identifying the specialty of the doctor. Even if the patient explicitly authorizes the doctor for normal email messaging, the doctor should still observe the minimal necessary PHI. This also includes telephone or text messages. In summary, the doctor should use secure email providers to send messages with the minimum necessary information.
Tips4EyeDocs, Richard Hom OD Dr. Hom is a noted security and computer blogger.

Are You Experiencing Burnout in Corporate Optometry?

Burnout can happen at any point in one’s career. New graduates may adapt the mindset that they have to go above and beyond to show that they are willing to work hard and have talent. You may want to take on 40-hour weekdays, get to work early but stay at work late, and take on extra tasks or projects. While it’s tempting to do all of this to make a name for yourself and pay off your student loans, you need to be careful.
New graduates aren’t the only one’s taking on too much. Established doctors might be tackling new locations, handling new administrative tasks, and working strenuous hours to make up income. However, all these mindsets and actions can lead to burnout which affects your physical, mental, and social health, and your work ethic. Yet, some of us may not know when we are stretching ourselves too thin. Here are some signs:

Signs of Burnout

Physical Health. This is one of the most common signs that you are experiencing burnout and can be exhibited in many ways. In the morning you simply don’t want to get out of bed. Your body feels like it weighs a million tons and the last place you want to be is in the workplace. You start to experience constant exhaustion in all aspects of life and you have trouble mustering the energy for anything. You may not be able to sleep at night because your mind is still back at work. Additionally, your immune system may take a turn for the worst causing you to develop consistent headaches or get sick more often than usual.

Mental Health. This is also another massive sign that you are taking on too much. You may notice that when at work you have a hard time focusing on any tasks, no matter how small. Everything starts to pile up and you notice that at the end of the day not much has gotten done or its not done properly. You might find yourself going through symptoms of being angry, depressed, and anxious both in the workplace and at home. An example would be feeling upset or frustrated by something that a coworker has done that might be as simple as socializing in the office, being happy in the morning, or finishing a project on time. Their causes for celebration make you feel worse and you feel like your feelings in general are magnified by ten.

Accomplishment. Another sign that you may be experiencing burnout includes feeling a lack of accomplishment. You feel as though nothing you get done is worthy of praise. You feel that your work isn’t good enough no matter how hard you try or how well you have done. While you are doing more and more or are taking on challenging tasks you feel as though you are still not doing enough to be noticed.

Social Health. Work has become everything. You have trouble thinking about anything else and you’re starting to miss birthdays, weddings, and holiday events. You don’t go out with your friends anymore and you don’t know what’s going on in anyone’s life. You’re taking on more and more work, but you aren’t taking out any time for yourself. You find that you don’t understand some conversations that revolve around things that might have happened outside of work. The physical and mental health effects are flowing over into your personal life. You’re angry with people that you shouldn’t be or your mood is affecting how you act at home.

Career Ledging. Now this is a topic that is up and coming. It pertains the moment when you have “peaked” in your career and you don’t know how to move forward. Some say it may even be more important than burnout. It’s important to mention this sign because it may lead you to understand whether you are truly burned out or are just stuck and don’t know how to move forward in your career.

What can you do?

Know your limits. It is so important to understand how much you can do and how much you need to do. While you want to work hard and show that you have the potential to be a wonderful employee, you also want to be able to stay consistent and not burn out in the process. If you come in to work early don’t also leave late or take on too many projects. Understand when you need to say no. Note that you may have been able to work seven days a week as a new graduate, but this can become harder when you start a family. A great tip is to take on one project at a time and do your best on that project before moving on to the next. In this way you effectively focus your time and energy without overworking yourself. You show that you can work hard, have impeccable time management and balance because you can stay consistent rather than burning out in the long run.

Set attainable short-term goals. You always hear about looking at the big picture, and that is an important aspect of business. However, you can have a big picture and still set smaller goals for yourself. Whether it be to get to work at a certain time, accomplish a certain step to beginning a project, or any other aspect of a big project or work task. Setting smaller goals and reaching them can give you a great sense of accomplishment until you reach your long-term goals.

Balance your life. It’s great to have big goals within the workplace, but try to set apart your work time and your personal life. When you get home disconnect from the worries of work and focus on your personal passions and social life. Don’t constantly check your work emails or text messages when you are at home. Set work contacts to “Hide Alerts” when you get home if that helps you. Set time aside to spend with your family and friends. Choose work hours that will help you to do so. If working in the mornings and being available in the afternoon or at night is the best fit for you then don’t be afraid to request that change.

Change your routines. A great way to relieve symptoms of burnout is to switch things up with your routine. If you always do things the same way, it may become monotonous. Do you normally pack a lunch? This time take some cash with you and go out for lunch somewhere new and close to the office. Do you usually work out after you get home? Try waking up earlier and going for a short run or even meditating before taking your cup of coffee. Are you able to take your laptop outside or work in a different part of the office? Go out to work events, talks or panels and network with the other professionals in your area. Not only do you get a change from the usual work scenery, but you get your name out into your industry. Anything you can do to make a fun and different spin in your daily work life can help in a big way.

Stay active with patients. Be present with your patients and what they have to say. Talk to them about their personal lives or their concerns and activities. Sometimes it can be very uplifting to hear their inputs or recent events. It can help move your mind away from your own stressors for the moment or help you understand where you should truly be putting your focus. At times patients can be extremely perceptive and they will tell you when they see that you are acting differently at work. Use this as an indicator that it is time to make a change.
In the end burnout is something that can affect anyone, but it is up to you to take that negative situation and turn it into a positive for yourself. You don’t want to get stuck or keep feeling the way you feel and perhaps these tips can help you to make the change you need.

HIPAA and Sign-in Sheets

Richard Hom as #Tips4EyeDocs – HIPAA and Sign-in Sheets

Doctors invariably use sign-in forms or computer tablets/terminals to identify patients for appointments or walk ins. Typically, the sign-in form may lie near the reception desk where the patient first engages the office. The question is how much liability to HIPAA violations do sign in sheets expose doctors.

According to CFR 45 CFR 164.502(a)(1)(iii), doctors “may use sign-in sheets or call out patients in waiting rooms, so long as the information disclosed is appropriately limited. Furthermore, HIPAA explicitly permits this, but it should not include any other information about the patient’s medical background.[1]

Unfortunately, the opinions vary on what is potential medical information to be released. There is a possibility that the specialization of the doctor may already by too much information and may expose a doctor to a complaint for a breach. [2] For instance, if there is a space for “reason for visit”, this may exceed the minimum information necessary to identify a patient. The permitted entries are: date, name, arrival and appointment times who the appoint is with.[3]

In summary, use a sign in sheet and call the patient from the reception area. However, limit what you say in public.



[1] N.a. “Code of Federal Regulations.” 7 Jun. 2016. Web. 15 Dec. 2017. <>
[2] Ferran, T. “Are Patient Sign In Sheets HIPAA Compliant?.” 14 Dec. 2017. Web. 15 Dec. 2017. <>
[3] Touchstone Compliance. “What the HIPAA Privacy Rule Says about Patient Sign-In Sheets.” Touchstone Compliance. 7 Feb. 2015. Web. 15 Dec. 2017. <https://www>



Attracting new patients with Twitter

By Dr. Sandi Eveleth, aka “The Digi Doc”
Here are a list of ways to attracting new patients with twitter your optometry practice.

● Send out press releases to your local news outlets and let them know what you’re
now doing to incorporate Twitter into your practice (eg. letting them know about
your “selfie wall”, your “live” events, etc.) – position yourself as an eye care
practice on the cutting edge of social media technology .
○ Also consider running a promotion for a discount off of an eye exam or for a
$5 gift card to a local coffee shop. Let the news outlets know about this
promotion as part of the press release.
● Promote your Twitter account on all of your other social media platforms to let
potential ideal patients, their friends, and families know you are now on Twitter.
● Hold special events at your office and be sure to invite key Twitter Influencers that
fit the ideal patient profile.
● Have weekly “Eye Care FAQs” sessions to explain routine eye care, specialty
services, eye diseases, and more.
● Get involved in your community and bring Twitter with you! Let people see you
using Twitter when you’re out in the community and explain to them that your using
it to help your patients. You may create enough of a buzz to attract new patients.
Also, if you perform any kind of fundraisers at your office, make sure (with their
permission, of course) you include using Twitter to capture the event.
○ Consider holding a “Tweetup” at your office and offer an in-person contest
to win a pair of plano sunglasses.
● *Find topics your potential, ideal patients may be “tweeting about” and
answer their questions with a video answer or quick tweet reply.
○ For example, look for local tweets that mention questions about computer
eye strain – the tweet may include a phrase that includes a “hashtag” that
may look like this: #ComputerEyestrain.
○ To search for Twitter users using this technique, go to Twitter’s advanced
search tool . Make sure you add your practice’s location to tap into the local
market. This is a very powerful tool and can win you patients by getting them
to know, like and trust you quickly.

5 Traits of a Great Regional Manager in Corporate Optometry

5 Traits of a Great Regional Manager in Corporate Optometry.



Corporate Optical Brand Affects Your Professional Career Path

Some aspects of corporate optometry will change over time while other aspects to stick for many years. Employer branding is one aspect that could possibly define your career. Corporate ODs need to understand that the company that they work with has a lasting impression on their career if associated for more than five years.

Reputation by Association

The way the corporate optical portrays itself to the optical community can reflect upon you.  Corporate ODs should be aware of the positive and negative connotations of a corporate optical. Careful consideration of employment is very important. Make sure this is a company that you want to be affiliated with. Being affiliated with a corporate optical that has recognition throughout the country can also be a great way to jump start your career. The employer brand can have a strong foundation for networking with other companies and making your next career move. You want to be associated with a corporate optical that has opportunities to grow clinically and learn the optical business. As an OD, the more experience you have the more value that you can provide to that company and potential employers. Don’t get stuck doing routine eye exams, many corporate opticals have the latest technology and encourage medical model and have leadership positions for ODs as regional ODs.
Your name in the industry and community has great value that you should develop and protect that. Carefully linking yourself to corporate opticals with a positive image can boost your personal name as an OD. Being an affiliated Corporate OD can be prestigious and have more hidden value than one might imagine! Working for with high-profile company that is expanding creates get opportunities for growth for employees and ODs. It is up to you as the OD to see this potential!

Which Corporate Opticals have a strong employer brand?

It is as simple as analyzing the number of vacancies on optometry job websites. Ask your fellow eye care professionals including opticians and sales reps. There are corporate optical brands that have ODs asking for new positions or on a waiting list for a potential future opening!

What do I do if my Corporate Optical doesn’t have the strongest Employer Brand?

If you are affiliated with a company that is either negative or unknown, consider how you can use your education and experience to illustrate your importance within the organization and create opportunities for success. Illustrate your accomplishments, work ethic and ability to adapt from the image of that brand.  For example, suggesting an action plan that can create a positive image for the company in the optical community or even a better approach to OD engagement and retention.
To gain recognition from other companies in the industry consider strategies like blogging, video blogging , writing for industry journals and posting content on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is underutilized among Corporate ODs but it has a powerful potential if taken advantage of.
Participating in the Corporate Optometry Facebook group will help you connect with current and past Corporate ODs at the same company. Your affiliation gives you an entrance to connect and build your own name in the industry. Recruiters are looking for candidates that are currently affiliated with well known corporate opticals. They search these candidates because they know the standards that those companies have for their employees to deliver great results and actively recruit  quality entrepreneurial ODs.

Corporate ODs should evaluate the optical side of the business in corporate optometry.

There are so many different factors to consider  in the business aspects of  corporate optometry. Many ODs will focus on their own business and ignore the optical.  Their success is your own success in corporate optometry. Evaluating the corporate optical should be part of the Corporate ODs business plan.

Here are some questions to ask : This information should be something that you have access to

What is the gross revenue of the optical?

Has the optical grown over the last year?

What is the sales to staff ratio?

Which staff member generates most income for the optical?

What are the hours of operation?

How much money does the optical generate,  how many are outside sales vs from you?

What is the per patient transaction ?

What is the percentage of sales that are upgrades?

How does that optical compare to the over all region and company?

Is the practice driven by managed care?

How much money do they spend on marketing and appearance of location?


The optical business is largely driven by the optical staff. The optical staff can really influence your business as well.  Understanding the importance of the optical growth to your own business will help you set goals that can be achieved by you and the optical manager. Consider involving regional management if you feel that your location is not reaching the potential that you believe it could be.