April 15 is a national day of angst in the United States. But for many this year, the government-provoked pain arrived one day early.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, a broad and complex set of federal privacy rules, went into effect Monday. HIPAA regulations are intended to give people more control over how their medical information is used. They affect anyone who works with or has access to medical information, from huge scientific research centers and big city hospitals to rural one-physician practices or any business that offers health insurance to employees.
[ … ]
The vast majority of health-care providers say they support increased privacy for patients, but also admit they don't fully understand what is required by the new rules.
“There is an extremely high level of confusion, misunderstanding, frustration, anxiety, fear and anger throughout the health-care industry regarding HIPAA,” said John R. Lumpkin, M.D., chairman of the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics, in a statement. The NCVHS serves as the public advisory body on health data and statistics to the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
People have had seven years to gear up for the new regulations since HIPAA was passed in 1996, but many health-industry tech workers said the rules weren't finalized until recently, and in some cases still don't take the problems posed by modern technology into account. [Privacy Digest]