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Home office cybersecurityMany professions were forced to abruptly shift to and adopt remote workspaces to be able to safely operate during the pandemic. Many physicians, real estate brokers, psychologists, and other licensed professionals who normally operated solely in person, have suddenly found themselves in a wholly foreign environment – likely their own spare room, interacting with clients and patients through a computer or phone. Certainly, many professionals have adapted to this method of practice over the last year, and some have even embraced it, or prefer it over pre-pandemic practices; however, a daunting oversight for many is the mere fact of cybersecurity. For many of these licensed professionals, client confidentiality and information protection, including HIPAA-aligned protocols, are legally required to operate. For a variety of reasons, including the necessity to suddenly shift to remote work, some professionals may not even realize that they are vulnerable to attack and that their patient/client information could be compromised at any moment.

For most of the licensed professionals listed above (and many who are not listed), patient/client confidentiality and privacy are an integral part of their practice. In addition to the requirement to follow HIPAA, it could also be the policy of the professional to contractually, and ethically, ensure confidentiality and privacy. Practicing from home greatly alters the ability to invoke the same standards that are possible in a private office space. A home office space may include visits from partners, children, roommates, or a variety of other possible visitors, and a closed door does not do much for privacy in the same way that a dedicated office space does. Licensed professionals must conscientiously think about the ways in which these conditions can affect the experience of their patient/client and agree upon a policy with those in their home office space to respect and follow client privacy policies.

Unless the home office was prepared in advance and made to mimic the kinds of resources available to the public office space, it is likely that the same types of cybersecurity programs are not in place. There have been reports of “smart” devices recording sound without the consent of the user, which could result in storage of private personal data, and criminals could access this information. Even though it is not the fault of the professional, it is ultimately their responsibility to protect their clientele through all routes possible.

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Chicago Realtor License Defense LawyerOn Thursday, November 19, 2020, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced that it planned to file a lawsuit against NAR, along with a proposed settlement that targeted NAR’s rules, policies, and practices, which the DOJ says are anticompetitive. The DOJ’s proposed settlement attempts to bring a level a transparency and competition to the real estate industry.

The proposed settlement posed by the DOJ would require NAR to change rules regarding broker commissions and service charges. NAR would have to change rules that currently enable MLS participants to not display or distribute MLS listings based on the compensation offered to the brokerage or agent, and rules that permit MLS participants to represent/suggest that their services are free to a client with no cost. The proposed settlement also calls for an end to limiting access to lock boxes to real estate brokers with respect to those properties listed on the MLS.

NAR agreed to comply with the proposed DOJ settlement agreement and will modify some of its rules and repeal others in order to resolve the antitrust lawsuit. NAR must comply with the settlement agreement within 45 days.

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Third-party payer interferenceWhen seeking out medical treatment, the most important relationship that arises is between the doctor and the patient. One of the main problems threatening that relationship is third-party payer interference. Third-party payers have seen a rising power in the exam room over the actual doctors treating patients. While the medical field has sought to empower patients in making their own medical decisions, third-parties are interfering with this ability. How have third-party payers acquired such influence?

Even though doctors are taught to recognize the patient as top priority, third-party insurers make the ultimate determination related to patient access to treatments and medications doctors have recommended, not only to improve patient health, but to save their lives. As unfathomable as it may seem, it is fairly common practice for patients to be denied the treatments their doctors have described. Patients are often unaware that when insurers deny this access, they can appeal the decision and fight to receive the treatment their doctors recommended. However, obstacles to overturning the insurers’ denial, even if patients are aware of this option, often scare off patients from pursuing claims.

As frustrating as denial is on the patient side, it likewise hinders a doctor’s ability to most effectively treat their patients. It is generally unethical to deny a patient treatment, especially if other treatments have proven ineffective. Yet, doctors are required to jump through third-party insurers’ hoops to eventually provide the treatment they recommended in the first place. For instance, certain types of therapy treatment require that a patient must first fail on a less expensive medication, even if it is likely to be less effective. Doctors also find themselves caught up in a situation where patients must independently prove they require the treatment or medication recommended by a doctor. Patients must demonstrate this through a doctor using certain diagnostic procedures or lab studies in coming to a conclusion regarding treatment.

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