Monday, October 20, 2014

HIPAA and Your 18-Year Old Child

"Terri, I am absolutely shocked!  I took my newly turned 18-year old high school senior for some medical tests this past week. The Patient Representative spoke to my son; she did not address me.  I then remembered, this is what you were talking about!"

I got this phone call from a friend of mine a couple of weeks ago.  Her son has some medical issues and during a recent hospital visit for tests, discovered things had changed; simply because her son turned 18.  The medical representatives no longer asked her questions about his medicines and history, they asked her son directly.  Her son, being as shocked as she was, was not prepared to take over his own medical decisions.

I had just talked about this topic during a Chamber event in our community weeks before and my friend was in attendance.  I had also written about this topic in a blog article about Spring break earlier this year.  The truth is, many parents are  shocked to discover that they no longer have access to their kid's medical information when their child turns 18.  Way too often, parents don't learn this until there is an urgent medical emergency while the adult child is away at College, Spring Break or in an automobile accident.   It doesn't matter that you're still paying for their medical bills or that they still live at home.

In my friend's case, there wasn't an emergency. She was accompanying her son for some medical tests, which is often the case in her situation.  But this time the difference was, her son is 18.

How can you be prepared?


This realization motivated my friend to action. Her son's medical condition is one he will have his whole life.  She and her husband know this and are prepared to help him as long as it takes, but they were unprepared for the privacy issues that come into existence the day their children turn 18.  After-all, it's not like we get a notice in the mail as parents alerting us to this fact.   She immediately contacted an attorney, and executed the healthcare power of attorney. 

She also took it a step further. In the event he is ever in a medical emergency away from home or if the copy they have gets lost or is unavailable, she put a digital copy of that signed power of attorney in the public folder of her son's emergency data folder of SafelyFiled.  In that way, if he is away from home and can't tell emergency responders anything, they will find his Emergency Data Card in his wallet and have access to important medical information as well as that power of attorney; immediately.  They then know they can share any medical information with his parents without risk of breaking HIPAA privacy laws.

There are many things that happen the day your child turns 18 that might catch you off guard.  The HIPAA privacy issue is one, a major one.  There are a few others that a blogger from About Parenting captured in this article you might find helpful. 


Be Aware of How Your Role Changes

It doesn't matter how old your child gets, they will always be your baby.  But from a legal perspective, you are no longer automatically granted the information you may need to help them in legal or medical matters when they turn 18.  Keep that in mind and be prepared for how your role as a parent will change simply because of a certain birthday in your child's life.


"The day your child turns 18 you no longer have access to their medical info"

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Why We Created SafelyFiled

"Press 1 if you want to add service."

"Press 2 if you want to make a payment."

"Press 3 if you want to change your address."


You know the drill.

My wife and I sold the old house and bought a new one.  After 27 years in the same place, we are moving.   So a few weeks ago I went to the phone company's website to cancel our land line and update the information on our cell phones.  Unfortunately, they don't have a button for canceling some of your service and keeping other parts of it, so I had to call their customer service number.

It took me 10 minutes of button pushing and hearing recorded messages about how I should go to the website to save time before I could talk to a human.  (And for those of you who are thinking, "This guy is an idiot.  All he has to do is push "0" to get to the operator," I have news for you.  Every company I deal with disabled this shortcut a while back.)

I like personal service

This got me thinking about the professionals I deal with and how much I appreciate their personal service.  Two weeks ago I called my insurance agent and we talked for 10 minutes.  It took 5 minutes to change addresses on the car insurance, cancel the old homeowners and get the new home insured.  Then we talked about our families for 5 minutes.  In the same amount of time it took to just get to a human at the phone company, my insurance got updated.  We all know that takes at least 15 minutes on the internet.

A few years ago when my wife and I wanted to update our estate plan, we visited the lawyer's office, talked for a half hour and in a few days we got a draft of all the documents we needed.  We reviewed them and had some questions.  Our lawyer told us the reasons for what he did and explained how the advice of the so-called financial experts we saw on TV or read on the internet did not apply to us.  If I had followed some of the advice I saw on the internet, I would have been spending a lot of money unraveling the mess I could have created.

And then there's our bank.  It's a community bank we've been using since it opened in the early 90's.  When we got into a financial bind the bank worked with us, extended a line of credit and covered some checks that should have bounced.  The personal banker we worked with is an angel. She made sure we were heard and went to bat for us at the loan committee.  I don't think we could have made it without her.

So, as you can see, I really appreciate the personal service my wife and I get from local professionals.  I would like my children and grandchildren to also enjoy the benefits of that type of personal service.  But many local professionals are struggling to compete with the internet services.  And while these internet businesses are great for some things, most of them simply don't know who you are - nor do they care.

Your local professionals and businesses need some help competing with the big internet services.

And that's why we created SafelyFiled

It's a tool that helps your professionals stay connected with you and all their other clients.  For example, if your attorney gave you a SafelyMD Emergency Data Card, not only would you and emergency personnel have instant access to your medical data, the card would also have your attorney's name on it.  Everybody wins.  You get better medical care and your attorney knows you have her name in your wallet.

Your accountant could use SafelyFiled to securely transmit your tax records to you, saving the cost of express mail.  And you could securely send records back.  You'd be doing so in a SafelyFiled site branded with your accountant's name and logo.  And if he keeps your records in a folder that only you have access to, you'll never have to search through old paper files again.

Your insurance agent could upload policies - even policies from different insurance companies -  and appraisal forms to your SafelyFiled folder, where your could always find them.  And if you decided you want to put your will and other estate documents in a folder, you can do so. Your folders don't just have to be for insurance business.  You'll be reminded of your agent every time you use your SafelyFiled account.

Let them know

So, if you like the professionals and businesses you deal with, and if you appreciate their personal service, let them know about SafelyFiled.  Forward a link to this blog.  SafelyFiled will help you stay organized  and certainly help your trusted professionals compete in an internet-connected world.

SafelyFiled helps families stay organized and trusted professionals compete in an internet-connected world.

Tweet: SafelyFiled will help families stay organized and trusted professionals compete in an internet-connected world.

There's another reason to help your local businesses too.  Most of the money you pay them stays in your community, as their incomes.  They spend it at local restaurants and shops, creating vibrant shopping districts that produce jobs and pay taxes for the services you want your local governments to provide.

It's personal

And here's one final reason to help your lawyer, accountant and insurance agent know about SafelyFiled.  It's simply personal.  I like it when my insurance agent knows me by my real name, Mark.  That is much better than being known only as an IP address by an algorithm.  

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Take Control of Your Medical Records

"The website continues to have security issues due to weaknesses in security controls."  That is a headline in my news feed today. Read the full story here.

I hate to hear this news for various reasons.  First, I hate it because it means that those of us who have no other option than to enroll in the national health care system could lose our privacy as our personal information is not adequately secured.  How ironic that private contractors who keep your medical records and follow federal regulations are more secure than the federal government itself.

Secondly, I've had people ask me, "If the Government can't keep our private data safe, how can SafelyFiled?"  That's a very good question.  I could go into a lot of detail on that topic but that's not the focus of this blog.  Let me briefly address this question by saying that as a private company, we have the authority and ability to make the decisions needed to ensure security is built into the system.  But a contractor working on General Services Administration's contract is required to closely follow the contract.   And often the lawyers who are charged with drafting the contract don’t have the technical background to provide the right instructions or the flexibility to quickly make changes to take into account technological advancements.  Enough said about that :-)

Here’s how we handle this issue at SafelyFiled.  We built the security infrastructure in FIRST, and then we built the easy to use application on top of that. You can read more about our security on our website.

Take Control of Your Own Health Care Records

Given the security issues, it is more important than ever that we take control of our own records. It's also a very good idea to have our own copy of them.  Here are just a few reasons why:

  1. If you are ever in an emergency away from your normal health care provider, the medical staff attending to you may not be able to get to your records.
  2. If you change doctors, or see different doctors for various health care needs, all of the doctors may not have access to the other doctors’ records.
  3. You may need access to your full medical history to apply for disability or some other assistance program.
  4. No one can ensure your medical records are complete more so than you. Having access to all of them will ensure your full medical history is available and accurate.
  5. If you travel outside of your home country, your medical records kept in country may not be accessible quickly enough in an emergency.

Don't know how to request your medical records?   Read this article.

Where should you keep records when you get them? 

You should definitely keep them in a secure place, but your records still need to be accessible.  Ideally, it would be best to have access to them from anywhere you are.

So how does one do that?  SafelyFiled/SafelyMD is the answer.  

SafelyMD is a tool you can use to store up to 5 documents, such as copies of your last wishes and health care power of attorney in the event of emergencies. SafelyMD also provides a medical form you can fill out to list information such as allergies, prescription medications and dosage, your emergency contacts, current medical conditions, medical history and even any implants you might have – all important in an emergency.  That information can be accessed at any time via an emergency medical data card that you can carry in your wallet.  The form itself can also be downloaded and printed so if you have a scheduled medical appointment, you can take it with you and hand it to the doctor to answer the questions always asked regarding your current health and medications.

SafelyFiled allows for even more storage; up to 1000 records, videos and images.  SafelyMD  is included in SafelyFiled and allows for the management of medical information for all family members within one account.

Take Control Starting Today        
If you don't currently have all of your medical records within your possession, check out the article in the link above and make a plan to get them.  Once you have them, store a copy of them in SafelyFiled so you'll always have them available wherever you are.

When you visit the doctor from now on, be sure to ask for a copy of your medical info from that visit for your files.

Not ready for SafelyFiled yet?  Start with SafelyMD.  You can always upgrade from there to SafelyFiled when you're ready to get more of your records stored away.  At the very least, fill out the SafelyMD medical form and print out your emergency data card.  That will get you started on the path to taking control of your medical records and health care with much better security than the national health care system provides!  

Get started today by clicking here.

Tweet: Take control of your #medicalrecords. It's more important than ever! #HIPAA #HealthCare
It's more important than ever to take control of your own medical records.





Friday, August 22, 2014

Disaster Preparedness Planning

Does your disaster preparedness plan include plans for vital family, medical and small business records?  If not, you're missing a critical aspect of disaster preparedness.

We are a member of's Disaster Preparedness Community.  We have found some great information in that community that helps the public be better prepared in the event of a disaster.

But one aspect of disaster preparedness planning that we constantly see missed is a plan for vital records.  Granted, if you have to evacuate your home or business quickly, grabbing records and files is not anywhere near the top of the priority list.  However, if your home or office is the place you're storing your records, and it gets destroyed, you'll regret not having a better plan for them. It's difficult and expensive to replace necessary legal, family and business records.

Tweet: If your #disasterpreparedness plans don't include a plan for vital records, it should!

The Best Plan is One You Can Use Everyday As Well As In Emergencies 


The best way to ensure that you have a plan for your vital records in the event of a disaster, is to have a system in place that works for everyday.  In this way, you won't even have to think of what to grab at the last minute if something happens.

We provide free checklists to help you identify some of the personal records you need to have a plan for.  These checklists are invaluable as they not only help you think of records you need to keep safe and readily available but also serve as a record itself when you fill them out. In addition, our Document Retention Checklist includes recommendations on who you may want to share certain records with.   So first step, go and download the checklists to help you get started.

Secondly, once you've gathered the records together, ensure you put them in a secure, yet easily accessible place so you can grab them quickly if you have to evacuate your home or office. We do partner with Life-In-Case as they offer a good portable solution for paper records on a personal scale. Depending on the amount of records you have, it may not be possible to have a small portable solution. 

If you use SafelyFiled, the tool provides a way for you to not only store the digital copy of your records, but also provides a way for you to record the location of the original record or physical asset (like gold for example).  For the records that you don't need originals of, you can shred the paper after the digital copy has been uploaded. You can always download and print another copy if needed.   For records you need to keep originals of, upload a digital copy of them in your account and put the originals in a secure place, safe from a possible disaster, yet accessible if you need to take them with you. Or put originals in a safe deposit box or other secure offsite location.

Even if you don't use SafelyFiled for your records, it's a great idea to use some sort of secure cloud storage for records so that you have a copy of them accessible from anywhere. But be very sure the storage system you use is secure and encrypts your information for safe-guarding. 

What Records Should You Have A Plan For?


Here are some examples:
  • Birth and marriage certificates, divorce decrees
  • Social Security cards of household members
  • Driver's license and other wallet cards
  • Will and/or trust documents; powers of attorney
  • Recent income tax return
  • Passports and/or other identity documents
  • Military discharge papers
  • A list of your prescriptions: name of medication, dosage, pharmacy (SafelyMD, which comes with SafelyFiled, provides a tool for this information as well).
Other important papers include:
  • Contacts for family members, employer, financial advisors, attorney, accountant, and banker
  • Insurance policy information
  • Bank, credit union, and credit card account list
  • Summary of personal, financial, property, and other vital information
Other items to consider including:
  • Safe deposit box keys and/or safe combination
  • Computer user names and passwords (we have a checklist that you can use for this and store in SafelyFiled---encrypted)
You may not be at the location where these records are kept when disaster strikes, so keep that in mind when making disaster preparedness plans for your records.

SafelyMD for Your Spouse

It's the middle of the night and something is wrong with your husband.  You call 911.   The paramedics arrive in minutes. They have important questions you need to answer but all you want to do is hold your husband's hand and tell him (and yourself) not to be so afraid.

The paramedics want to know about any medical conditions, medications, allergies, resuscitation orders and recent surgeries.  So you let go of his hand and run to the medicine chest.  You give the bottles to a paramedic.  And you try to remember what your husband told you about his last trip to the doctor.

You are in a nightmare, except it's real.  And his life could depend on how accurately you answer the questions.

How SafelyMD works


If you take five minutes now to open a SafelyMD account and fill out the online form, you'll be able to provide the answers to those questions easily, when you aren't in the middle of a crisis.  You can record information about medications, surgeries, medical conditions and allergies.  You can put in as much or as little information as you want.  You can upload documents too, like healthcare powers of attorney, do not resuscitate orders or medical insurance card information.

You can see how SafelyMD works in our 5-minute video here.

When the paramedics arrive, they have two easy ways to get the information.  You could hand them the form you completed earlier and printed and put on the refrigerator door.  Or, you could hand them the SafelyMD card with the QR code on it.  Using a scanner on their smartphones or tablets, the paramedics scan the QR code and can quickly view the SafelyMD information.  They'll see the form you already completed and if you put the healthcare power of attorney in the public folders, they'll have a copy of that too.

SafelyMD outside the home 

That little card with the QR code is the key to important medical information that emergency medical personnel use to help decide what particular treatment option to use.  If your husband has one in his wallet, then the information will be with him, along with a list of who to call in the event of a medical emergency.  And you can easily update the information without having to print a new card.

Please, take advantage of this

We are offering SafelyMD as a free service until Sep 2014.  If you sign up for an account before Sep, you will keep SafelyMD for free for as long as you remain a member.  After Sep 2014, it will still be a great value at $9.95 a year per person.  If you have multiple family members that you'd like cards for, sign up for SafelyFiled or upgrade from a single SafelyMD account to a SafelyFiled membership.  You get unlimited SafelyMD cards in our premium service.

Don't wait, sign up now


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Helping Technophobic Mom With Her Finances From Across The Country

My husband is working with his mother to get her financial affairs in order.  She lives several states away and is very technophobic.  He is having a good time with it.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Another Massive Security Breach

It's in the headlines again!  Another massive security breach where possibly more than a billion internet credentials were stolen.  Read the entire article here

The particulars of this latest breach have not yet been made public.  The initial reports are that the majority of the information stolen is related to email accounts for possible use to send spam and possible malware.  But it could be much more sinister.


What should you do?


The first thing you should do is change the passwords on your online accounts.  This is a good practice to do every 6 months or so anyway. Yes, it's a pain.  But much less painful than having your identify or assets stolen. 


DO NOT use the same password on all accounts!  That cannot be overstated.

There are password management tools such as that can definitely make the management of your passwords easier.  There is a learning curve on that tool, like most tools, but it's pretty intuitive and once you've learned it, you'll love the ease of changing passwords often yet not having to remember all of those different passwords.  It's well worth the premium price of $12 a year. 

Secondly, for all the online accounts you have that offer a two-factor authentication, which is the ability to require an access code in addition to a login and password, turn it on!  Most banks and other financial institutions, along with companies like Google, Facebook and even SafelyFiled, offer this extra level of security.  In our case, you can turn this on to be "always" required, meaning every time you log into your account you will also need an access code, or "only from public computer" which means if you log in from a computer or smart phone different than one you've identified as a private one, you will then need the access code.

The New York Times just released a good article regarding what you need to know about keeping your data out of the hands of the hacker. > Read more.....
Tweet: Passwords alone aren't enough to keep your info secure. Read more:
Tweet this to inform your followers!

"Passwords alone aren't enough to keep your info secure."


What is SafelyFiled doing?


We are doing the same thing you should be doing.  We are reviewing our online vulnerabilities.  Our main infrastructure does not allow access with only a password.  We are in the process of reviewing the subsidiary services that we rely on and updating passwords and enabling two-factor authentication where available and not yet enabled.

Share this blog with your loved ones and use social media to get this information out.   Taking proactive measures now can save a lot of heartache later.