Following is an exclusive interview with Larry Cafero of Brown Rudnick Berlack Israels about the firm's development of HIPAA-SOLUTION, an online tool that helps enables health care organizations comply to the HIPAA privacy standards.
1. What has been the feedback you have received from healthcare professionals regarding the HIPAA legislation?
As with most new compliance standards the feedback to the HIPAA privacy laws has been both positive and negative. Healthcare providers recognize the importance of patient confidentiality issues and generally support many of the common sense protection issues addressed by the rule. Providers have been struggling, however, with the problems associated with actually implementing the various features of such a broad and complex rule. Questions regarding how to effectively train personnel, how the rule impacts communications with patients, and whether commonly used forms need to be changed, are all being faced by providers nationwide. Small providers in particular are concerned with adapting to day-to-day procedural changes and compliance costs that larger providers have become somewhat accustomed to over the years.
2. How do you feel the healthcare industry has coped with the HIPAA changes?
Larger entities in the healthcare industry have been moving steadily toward HIPAA compliance. HIPAA "covered entities" including hospitals, health insurers and state Medicaid programs have for the most part recognized the complexities with compliance and have been working toward implementation. Although some small providers have begun to work toward compliance, many are behind in their efforts and are scrambling to find appropriate compliance programs or tools to assist them.
3. What is the biggest benefit to healthcare professionals and patients with the HIPAA changes, in your opinion?
An important focus of this rule on education. The rule requires providers to inform patients as to when and how their health care information may be used and what their rights are. The obvious benefit to patients is that they will hopefully feel more in control and aware of what is happening to their health information.
4. How will HIPAA help a dental office in the near future?
HIPAA administrative simplification rules require health plans and other covered entity payers to utilize standardized transaction formats and code sets when engaging in claims transactions and certain other covered transactions. The expected result of the use of these standard formats and code sets is increased efficiency within the health care system. It is hoped that claims submitted by dentists and other providers to third-party payers will be processed more efficiently and paid faster.
5. Please explain the benefits of HIPAA-SOLUTION.
The Brown Rudnick e-Solutions HIPAA-SOLUTION is a an online training tool that aids office-based healthcare providers in achieving compliance to the HIPAA privacy rules. The product is a one-stop, user-friendly offering that permits training to take place without costly disruptions to business operations while greatly decreasing or eliminating the need for expensive legal and consulting services. The offering provides a HIPAA compliance solution that offers both office compliance instruction and job-specific compliance training. As a result, costs associated with compliance are greatly reduced while healthcare practitioners reduce their risk of liability.
6. It has been said that dental professionals have been somewhat slow to adapt to finding things online and using the Internet. Obviously, this is an online product. Have you found the "slow to adapt" stigma to be true of dentists or not?
Dentists appear to be similar to other healthcare professionals in their use of the Internet. Some individuals are very Internet-savvy and some have little or no experience working online. HIPAA-SOLUTION does not require significant experience with online technology. It is designed to be easy-to-use and simple. If you can type your name and use a mouse, you can use this product.
7. Do you see any other legislative changes coming soon? If so, how can dentists prepare for these changes?
The HIPAA Privacy Rules were finalized in August of 2002. Major changes to this rule are not expected in the near future. Users of the Brown Rudnick e-Solutions HIPAA-SOLUTION will receive updates notifying them of significant changes or developments regarding HIPAA as they arise. Users of HIPAA-SOLUTION will have significant advance warning to prepare for any regulatory changes.