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HIPAA Compliance

Implementing the Federal Health Privacy Rule in California

The Federal Health Privacy Rule became effective in 2001, as part of the implementation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). In the broadest terms, the Privacy Rule imposes new restrictions on sharing health information and creates new safeguards for consumers over their own health information. Providers must comply with the standards by April 2003.

Health care organizations that are covered by the Federal Health Privacy Rule include health insurers, physicians, hospitals, pharmacists, and alternative practitioners, such as acupuncturists.

The structure of HIPAA is similar to California patient privacy laws. In general, the Federal Health Privacy Rule prohibits the sharing of individually identifiable health information without the patient's permission unless the purpose of the disclosure is permitted by the rule.

The federal rule differs from California law in the following key areas: The three implementation guides are designed to support the industry's compliance efforts.

In addition, small group providers and safety-net providers can gain a basic understanding of HIPAA requirements by reading the HIPAA Administrative Simplification: Tool Kit for Small Group and Safety-Net Providers. This tool kit describes the key elements of each rule, suggestions for implementation, security guidelines, timelines, and further resources.

Source: Joy Pritts, J.D., of the Health Privacy Project

Important HIPAA Information

By April of 2003, covered healthcare providers and most health plans must be in compliance with the rule.

"In the broadest terms the Privacy Rule does two things (1) it imposes new restrictions on how covered entities can use and share health information; and (2) it creates new rights for individuals concerning their own health information", according to Joy Pritts, J.D.

The privacy portion of the act requires that all affected health organizations from hospitals to doctors to HMO/PPO's to put in place appropriate administrative, technical, and physical safeguards to protect the privacy of protected health information.

How We Can Help

Compliance with the rule can be accomplished in a number of ways. Ergo Works® has a very simple and non-invasive method. Ergo Works® offers a variety of Privacy Filters for computer monitors that restricts access to the information without having to install any specialized software. These filters are simple to install and do not require any specialized training to take full advantage of the product. The real advantage to the organizations is that the filters can be implemented quickly and effortlessly and allow the organization to concentrate on more important aspects of the HIPAA regulation.

Click here to view our selection of Privacy Filters.

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