Customer Relations Specialist

Title: Customer Relations Specialist
Career Level and Role Type: Entry to Mid; Full-Time Position
Tools Ticket tracking with Jira; Confluence Wiki; Microsoft Office
Education College Degree or Technical Degree Required
Responsibilities: Customer support for service-related issues

Customer communication for product changes

Customer contact database management

Documentation for customer facing and internal issues

Support and supplement quality assurance processes

HIPAA and HITECH compliance


Health Monitoring Systems is seeking candidates for a customer support specialist role.  This position is responsible for working with end users and ensuring successful customer experience.   The customer support specialist tracks customer issues, communicates changes in the EpiCenter service, and manages regular status meetings.  EpiCenter is software-as-a-service (SaaS) provided to public health departments to monitor healthcare-related data throughout the United States.  EpiCenter is the largest system in the country that collects real-time HL7 healthcare data, storing billions of records from thousands of providers.

This support position demands candidates who are capable of mastering technology.  EpiCenter is developed by Health Monitoring Systems and involves multi-domain expertise.   This expertise is distributed throughout team members who are leaders in the field.   The position will need to discuss customer questions and issues with domain experts and be able to accurately and succinctly convey status.

The position is responsible for:

  • Managing the customer ticketing process
  • Tracking issues to successful resolution and acceptance
  • Maintaining routine status reports

Since Health Monitoring Systems works with healthcare data, our systems conform to a company Information Security Plan that implements HIPAA and HITECH.  Adhering to these standards and working with our processes is an important responsibility of this position.

A successful candidate for this position will be detail-oriented, possess excellent communication skills, demonstrate interest in technology, and desire to help customers meet their objectives.

Contacts us at

Healthcare Facility Coordinator

Career Level: Entry to Mid for Full-Time Position
Compensation: Entry to Mid for Full-Time Position
Environment: Software as a Service
Education College Degree Required
Location Hybrid position at company’s discretion;

No full-time remote considered

Responsibilities: Facility Communication

Facility Data and Configuration Review

Report Creation and Delivery to Stakeholders

Health Monitoring Systems is seeking candidates for an open position as a Healthcare Facility Coordinator as part of our Customer Relations Team.  This position is responsible for coordinating with healthcare facilities and our technical staff to plan, track, and report on the progress of data connections with healthcare facilities.

EpiCenter is a Software-as-a-Service system provided to public health to monitor population health.  The system connects healthcare to public health by gathering data from hospitals, urgent care centers and physician offices.  EpiCenter is the largest system in the country that collects real-time healthcare data directly from healthcare facilities, covering an area of nearly 40 million lives in the United States.

The Healthcare Facility Coordinator position requires excellent communication and organizational skills.  Candidates should be exceptional at using technology and be conversant with the healthcare system.

Our Healthcare Facility Coordinator will be responsible for following our established processes for new facility connections, facility issue management, and facility status reporting.  This is an excellent position for a self-motivated individual to obtain deeper experience in healthcare data.  An excellent candidate will be able to gain a basic understanding of the technology used to collect and analyze healthcare information, including a basic understanding of HL7 and HIPAA.

Since Health Monitoring Systems works with healthcare data, all of our systems conform to a company Information Security Program that implements HIPAA and HITECH.  Adhering to these standards and improving our processes in a commonsense way is an important part of this position.

Ideally, we are looking for a  candidate who can bring intelligence and energy to the position.

Contact us at

Bulletin: Geographic Access Restrictions to Epicenter


As part of our ongoing efforts to improve product security and responsiveness, HMS will be implementing geographical access restrictions for our Epicenter product. These restrictions will only allow access to connections originating from North America (eg. the United States, Mexico, and Canada). All connections originating from other countries will be denied.

Impact of change

Once rolled out, all attempts to access Epicenter from outside of North America will be blocked. If access from a restricted country is needed, the client will need to provide and connect via a VPN service. Compatible VPN services must utilize a gateway located inside North America.

Effective Date

This change will be implemented on March 7th, 2022 across all of our environments.

Bulletin: “Gender” Field Changing to “Sex” in EpiCenter UI

EpiCenter’s “Gender” field label will be changing to “Sex”. All functionality and dropdown menu choices will remain the same.

Health Monitoring has chosen to re-examine our use of terminology for this field. While “sex” and “gender” have historically been used as synonyms in the healthcare field, contemporary usage has shifted to draw a distinction between the two terms. The World Health Organization (WHO) describes “sex” as referring “…to the different biological and physiological characteristics… such as chromosomes, hormones, and reproductive organs.” Again, citing from WHO, gender “…refers to the characteristics… that are socially constructed. This includes norms, behaviors and roles associated with being a woman, man, girl, or boy…”. While for many patients the terms remain synonymous, appropriate understanding of sex and gender are important to ensure that there are no barriers to care to transgender and gender-nonconforming patients.

Record keeping in most healthcare facilities has not fully caught up to the shift in language. The concepts of “sex” and “gender” are not clearly and reliably reported separately. Across all health systems it is not clear what is being asked, and across all patients it is not clear how they will answer if only asked one question. Given that ambiguity, Health Monitoring had previously made the decision to use “Gender” in EpiCenter’s user interface so as to not to create false confidence among EpiCenter users that the field represented biological characteristics exclusively.

However, HL7 terminology itself shifted between versions 2.1 and 2.4. The relevant field is now identified as “Administrative Sex”. This essentially creates yet another dimension corresponding to whatever response the system captures to whatever answer a patient gives to the question. Health Monitoring is changing terminology to align with HL7. Because “Administrative Sex” is unwieldy for the user interface, we will use “Sex”, but it should be understood to mean “Administrative Sex” and nothing more.

During Q4 of 2021, the “Gender” field label will change to “Sex” on the Charts and Maps tabs of EpiCenter. The terminology used in all reports, dashboards, and publications will be updated on a rolling basis throughout 2022.

Bulletin: Reviewing Vault Access by Users


Syndromic Surveillance collects a limited data set from participating healthcare facilities.  Under HIPAA, limited datasets do not require the same high security standards for data at rest and data in motion.  With the collection of data beyond Syndromic Surveillance data, which is not part of an evaluated limited data set, there is greater concern regarding handling of PHI and Other Sensitive Information (POSI).

To address this concern regarding proper handling of POSI, Health Monitoring has implemented a new component within EpiCenter (the Vault) and introduced audited access to data which may contain POSI.  EpiCenter users are prompted to enter a POSI Access Reason as well as provide a password verification in order to access reports that include POSI.

Vault Report Access Tracking

Health Monitoring has created a set of three reports that allows the appropriate personnel to see which EpiCenter users, within their region, have accessed the Vault along with their POSI Access Reason.

Each of the three reports serves a different purpose. The “Find Vault Report Usage” report shows each execution of a report per line. The “Find Vault Audit Entries” report shows each retrieval of a piece of sensitive information per line. The “Find Vault Value Entries” report is not listed directly under the Reports menu, as is it a pivot form the “Find Vault Audit Entries” report. This report shows the access history for a particular piece of sensitive information; one access per line (access types can be Create, Read, Write, etc.).

Effective Date

These three reports have been implemented into the Production environment and the appropriate users will be granted access to them.

Patient Locator Service – Building Efficiencies and Helping Providers Focus on Care

As Health Monitoring builds its Patient Locator Service, we continue to identify new ways that the service will benefit our clients. The concept, which grew out of unmet demand for one-stop patient location information, will soon be available to provide meaningful efficiencies in emergency situations. This allows providers to remain focused on patient care.

Our PLS will be a powerful tool that consolidates timely information, helps to meet regulatory requirements, and complements emergency preparedness plans.
With PLS, concerned family members only need to make one contact to obtain patient location information. This eliminates the need for calls to EMS, hospitals, or fire departments.
It allows physicians and first responders to do what they do best—provide life-saving care—without the added burden of administrative work.

PLS was conceived following numerous incidents where families were separated from loved ones during emergency situations. These occurrences included a New Jersey highway school bus crash and a Pennsylvania Turnpike motorcoach rollover. We quickly acknowledged that a central point of contact would benefit desperate people searching for relatives.

The concept transitions well to planned events, such as concerts or large conventions. For example, if an accident happened during a public parade, having PLS set up in advance allows for streamlined communication services between patients, families, and medical services.

Learn more about Health Monitoring’s Patient Locator Service (PLS) and how it could benefit you by contacting John Maletta, vice president of sales and service, 412.231.2020, ext. x115

The Genesis of PLS

Health Monitoring has a strong presence in the state of New Jersey—providing syndromic surveillance via the EpiCenter system. We’ve also worked on a number of event-specific projects in the state, including syndromic surveillance for the Super Bowl and during/after the devastating impacts of Hurricane Sandy

Those experiences led the Northern New Jersey Urban Area Security Initiative to ask Health Monitoring for another service, following a tragic school bus crash in 2018. The accident, which occurred on a major highway, involved one of many buses taking middle school students to a field trip. The bus that crashed contained 46 passengers. Calls began pouring into 911 and emergency management lines as parents attempted to locate their children.

At the crash scene, drivers pulled over to assist. Calls began to come into EMS services, allowing help to arrive within minutes. Despite the best efforts of all involved, two people passed away as a result of the accident. The injured required differing levels of care, requiring transport to many local hospitals.

As news spread of the accident, worried parents began calling the school and hospitals for any information that was available. In the chaos of the situation, there were more questions than answers, leaving many frustrated and frightened.

Following the incident, the Northern New Jersey Urban Area Security Initiative recognized the need for a centralized information source to connect families and others to valuable, accurate information. Health Monitoring was tasked with developing a service that could meet these needs. The project was the first step toward our work to develop a Patient Locator Service or PLS.

As we continue to build the Health Monitoring PLS system, we recognize that it will be an important connection to patient information—during crisis situations, ongoing emergencies, and even planned events. PLS will serve as a central point of contact for all information about an incident, eliminating the need for calls to EMS, hospitals, or fire departments. It will also provide quick reassurance to those making inquiries.

Learn more about Health Monitoring’s Patient Locator Service (PLS) and how it could benefit you by contacting John Maletta, vice president of sales and service, 412.231.2020, ext. x115

Syndromic Surveillance: Insights into Healthcare Policy

Health Monitoring Systems is discovering that syndromic surveillance can also provide a rich source of information for public policy. Recently an American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) study found that ER physicians believe they are busier now than they were before implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate. The study was covered in USA Today, giving it national exposure. We read the article with great interest, wondering if the data we’d collected supported the physicians’ perceptions.

So we peeked at the data collected inHMS1A-pg1-WEB-OPTIMIZED EpiCenter, comparing the same ERs reporting quarter-by-quarter from California to New Jersey.   That data shows that the ACEP survey was indeed correct; most facilities had more visits after the inception of the individual mandate than before.   But—and this is significant—for most facilities we looked at, there were fewer visits than in 2012.  So, why the belief that more people were coming into the ER? And what does the ACA have to do with the perceived increase?

We reached out to the author of the USA Today article, healthcare reporter Laura Ungar, to learn more about the policy implications of what ACEP’s respondents believe to be going on in ERs across the country.  Ms. Ungar explained that ACEP doesn’t have recent data related to physicians’ perceptions.
And that too is significant.  Public health departments operating syndromic surveillance systems have unique insight into healthcare utilization—insights not available elsewhere.

The peek at our data showed that from 2014 to 2015, out of 324 ERs that reported consistently in that period, 254 (78%) saw an increase in visits. By contrast, from 2012 to 2015 only 42.7% (117 of 274) of ERs had increased visits. Variation like that seems to indicate something is happening beyond the ACA’s individual mandate, which took effect on January 1, 2014.

HMS1A-pg2-WEB-OPTIMIZEDThat said, the effect of the Affordable Care Act on emergency departments is a real concern.  The promise of increased health insurance coverage is that emergency department usage for non-urgent visits will decline.  The theory goes that the uninsured population uses the emergency department as a surrogate for a primary care physician.  But for this promise to be fulfilled, the uninsured  —who live mainly in lower-income urban or rural areas with poor access to healthcare options — need access to more healthcare options.   That won’t happen overnight.

A deeper look at emergency department visits shows that the ACA’s individual mandate and the expansion of Medicaid may not be the only factors affecting ER visits and physician perceptions:

  • Through the 2000s, a long-term trend in ER visits resulted in an increase of over 35% from 2000 to 2010.
  • At the same time, the number of ERs decreased by nearly 10%.
  • Urgent care centers, which can be a substitute for ERs, have multiplied: from none in the 1980s, there are now some 9,000 facilities in the United States, about twice the number of hospitals.
  • The Oregon Study [] showed that the newly insured Medicaid patients used emergency departments at a rate 40% higher than average.
  • For the four years after the 2008 economic downturn, healthcare spending was at its lowest level in five decades; this was due to changes in the economy, not the ACA.
  • Part of the ARRA, Meaningful Use requirements ushered in the era of EMR. The results are an increase in non-patient-related administrative tasks, making physicians even busier.

There’s no simple answer to the complex problem of ER utilization. But our data does indicate that the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act can’t be the primary cause of rising visits by 2015.

All of this proves it’s time to rethink the role of syndromic surveillance: It’s not just a monitoring tool, but also a platform upon which the public health community can build healthcare policy.  The ACEP survey demonstrates just such an occasion.  ER physicians are concerned with the impact of the ACA on patient visits, but other factors confound their ability to understand what is affecting ER utilization.

Public health syndromic surveillance infrastructure can help address these policy concerns. No one else is as well equipped to tackle this challenging problem.

Perspective: Foreign Travel Classification

In the event of an outbreak, public health routinely strives to accurately identify all potential cases of disease. This process includes differentiating between the “worried well,” who may reference an infectious disease by name simply because it is receiving widespread media coverage, and patients who cite genuine causes for concern, like contact with an infected person or travel to a region where an outbreak is peaking. To help address these concerns, EpiCenter users in public health have requested the implementation of a foreign travel classification.
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Diagnosis Codes and Syndromic Surveillance

The long-awaited ICD-10 compliance date of October 1, 2015 is fast approaching, and we’ve spoken with many concerned physicians and technical contacts at acute care facilities about how these changes may affect EpiCenter senders. EpiCenter has been capable of accepting ICD-10 codes since the initial ICD-10 compliance date of October 1, 2013, and over the past year we have worked with dozens of hospitals and ambulatory care offices on successfully testing their syndromic surveillance feeds with ICD-10 codes.
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