There is no doubt that medical and other personal information is more exposed in the cybersecurity realm than ever. When the Office of Inspector General (OIG) announced new proposed amendments to the existing Electronic Health Records (EHR) Safe Harbors in October 2019, perhaps OIG and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) were just acknowledging the serious privacy and cybersecurity challenges lurking in the vast scope of ostensibly legitimate sharing of PHI. Various state legislatures also are enacting far-reaching cybersecurity and privacy laws.

Electronic Health Records

By way of background, OIG first adopted the Safe Harbor for the donation of EHR software and training by hospitals to physicians in 2005, but placed limitations intended to discourage inducement or remuneration for referrals by requiring that physicians pay at least 15% of the cost and establishing a sunset provision, i.e.,

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My birthday is tomorrow as I write this, but I don’t feel old. Do you? I’ve come to the conclusion that we are all somewhere between the age of 18 and 33 in our minds. Our bodies inevitably age, but our minds remain in the same space, wondering what on Earth happened. Years run together; memories run together. Mental images of high school and college friends are so crystal clear that we are shocked to see how they’ve changed in the decades since. And, of course, it stands to reason that we ourselves have changed. When did that mole appear? What percent gray am I?

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Author’s note: I often have been asked by medical students why I chose diagnostic radiology. The piece that follows answers this question. This editorial is part of what I hope will become a series in the Bulletin. I encourage the members of ACMS to tell their own stories of how or why they chose their medical specialties or type of practice.

My professional career did not begin in medicine. Both my father and my Uncle Dave were pharmacists, having graduated from the Albany College of Pharmacy (ACP, now Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences), in Albany, N.Y. I worked in their pharmacy on weekends and in the summers and, naturally, I was exposed to the profession.

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Founded in 1960 to respond to the polio virus in Western Pennsylvania, the Allegheny County Medical Society Foundation (ACMSF) is again mobilizing to combat an epidemic in our region.  The COVID-19 Front Line Relief Fund will aggregate individual and organizational donations to issue grants supporting front line healthcare providers. The ACMSF will fund the distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) and the basic needs of healthcare professionals.

“The Medical Society has received a deluge of calls from independent medical practices, hospital-based physicians, and nursing homes—all who are seeking help,” says Jeremy Bonfini, CEO of The Allegheny County Medical Society Foundation.

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March 30, 2020

The Honorable Donald Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

On behalf of the American Medical Association’s (AMA) Board of Trustees and our physician and medical student members, I am writing to commend your recent decision to extended physical distancing guidelines, but also to underscore our serious concerns about shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE). Physicians are on the front lines combatting this destructive and invisible enemy. They are working tirelessly to care for overwhelming numbers of critically ill patients, but they cannot do this alone. We need the help of everyone in the nation, including the federal government, to ensure we succeed.

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Editorial …………………………….70
Deval (Reshma) Paranjpe, MD, FACS

Editorial …………………………….72
On the origin of anxieties
Anthony L. Kovatch, MD

Editorial ……………………………76
My virtual visit: A new frontier in care delivery
Andrea G. Witlin, DO, PhD

Editorial ……………………………78
Finding my niche: Diagnostic Radiology
Richard H. Daffner, MD, FACR

Perspective ……………………….83
A cure for diabetes: Is this possible in the next decade?
Michelle Roberts, MD


Membership Benefits …………80
ACMS Alliance News ………….84
Classifieds ………………………..84


Materia Medica …………………..86
First FDA-approved oral immunotherapy for children with peanut allergies: Palforzia
Ashley N. Roland, PharmD candidate

Legal Report ……………………..90
Privacy of medical records and personal information: Big Data, AI, expanded EHR Safe Harbors and consumer privacy
Michael A.

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The Honorable Jessica K. Altman
Insurance Commissioner
Pennsylvania Insurance Department
1311 Strawberry Square
Harrisburg, PA 17120


Re:   Improving Access to Telehealth Services during the State of Emergency in Pennsylvania

Dear Commissioner Altman:

 On behalf of the more than 3,600 members of the Allegheny County Medical Society, we urgently request that you issue an order applicable to all health insurance companies operating in Pennsylvania to expand payment for telehealth services.  During this state of emergency, Pennsylvanians enrolled in Commercial and Medicare Advantage plans now face uncertainty in accessing care normally provided in clinical settings. We ask you to order health insurance plans to increase the scope of covered telehealth services commensurate with the March 17th Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services expansion of telehealth benefits.

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February 2020 Bulletin

William K. Johnjulio, MD, was presented with the president’s pin and gavel at the Dec. 10 meeting of the ACMS Board of Directors, merely weeks prior to beginning his service as the 155th president of the Allegheny County Medical Society.

As ACMS president, Dr. Johnjulio’s vision for the year is three-fold, with goals focused on fiscal responsibility, providing support to independent physicians and creating relevance for employed providers.

“One of my goals is to create a trajectory toward fiscal responsibility for the society,” Dr. Johnjulio said. “In the past, the society has relied on investments and membership to stay financially sound, but I think it needs to broaden its horizons moving forward.”

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February 2020 Bulletin

During the terrible influenza epidemic of 1918, my grandmother was a young girl in India. But not too young to remember the piles of bodies of victims; there were so many daily influenza deaths that it was impossible for city workers, funerary workers and relatives to keep up with cremations. Her father was the Health Officer for the town of Poona under British rule, and while it was his responsibility to stay in town and oversee response to the epidemic, he sent his family away to safety on the high ground of Poona where the epidemic had not yet reached.

My great-grandfather’s brother decided to keep him company, and together the two men occupied a deserted ancient “vada” – a combination of a fort and villa and palace – in town.

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Every year Allegheny County Medical Society (ACMS) Foundation recognizes extraordinary physicians, dedicated volunteers, and outstanding organizations that have made significant contributions to the health and well-being of patients in the Pittsburgh region and beyond during its annual awards and fundraising gala.

ACMS Foundation is currently accepting nominations for its annual physician and community awards.  If you know of or work with a physician, nurse, healthcare professional, volunteer or organization whose dedication and contributions to patient care deserve to be recognized, the medical society wants to hear about them.  What better way to honor their passion and dedication to patient care than nominating them for one of the following prestigious awards:

Physician Awards:

Nathaniel Bedford Primary Care Award 

Recognizes a primary care physician for exemplary, compassionate, comprehensive and dedicated care of patients.

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