Compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule by the April 14 deadline has increased significantly among respondents to the Spring 2003 U.S. Healthcare Industry Quarterly HIPAA Compliance Survey, conducted in April by HIMSS and Phoenix Health Systems. However, survey results indicate that a lower percentage of respondents met the April 16 deadline to begin testing HIPAA Transactions and Code Sets (TCS), perhaps due to a greater emphasis on meeting the Privacy deadline and solving the ongoing technical complexities related to standardized HIPAA transactions.
Seventy-eight percent of healthcare providers claimed they were compliant with the HIPAA Privacy regulations by the April 14 deadline compared to only 9 percent of providers in the Winter 2003 survey, conducted in January. Additionally, 68 percent of payers and 47 percent of clearinghouses reported compliance in the Spring 2003 survey. This can be compared to 5 percent and 14 percent, respectively, in the Winter 2003 survey.
On the other hand, 39 percent of healthcare software vendors reported Privacy compliance in the Spring 2003 survey compared to 19 percent in the Winter 2003 survey. Another 23 percent said they were unsure of their HIPAA Privacy compliance status.
The emphasis on implementation of the Privacy regulations and the technical complexities inherent in universal adoption of HIPAA standardized Transactions may explain the delayed TCS compliance efforts by many healthcare enterprises. Results indicate that Transactions and Code Sets testing initiatives are underway, but preparing for testing and final implementation remains a struggle for many organizations across the health care industry.
One-half, or 50 percent, of all survey participants reported completion of TCS implementation activities and just 53 percent began internal testing by the April 16 deadline. Forty nine percent of providers, 62 percent of payers, 55 percent of vendors and 80 percent of clearinghouses stated they were conducting internal Transactions testing as of the April 16 deadline. With respect to external testing with their business partners, 39 percent of providers, 37 percent of payers, 39 percent of vendors and 53 percent of clearinghouses met the testing deadline.
Respondents to the Spring 2003 survey said not enough time was the primary roadblock to HIPAA compliance, a response that had been listed among the top three roadblocks in previous surveys. The interpretation of the HIPAA regulations ranked second, compared to its number one spot in the Winter 2003 survey.
In reviewing survey results from the previous quarters, a communication breakdown among business partners remained a major concern for many of the respondents. In general, providers and payers responding to the Spring 2003 survey stated that just 50 to 60 percent of clearinghouses and vendors are likely to be ready to accept/transmit HIPAA-compliant transactions by the October 2003 deadline. In addition, providers estimated that less than 50 percent of payers will be ready to accept/transmit HIPAA-compliant transactions by the fall compliance date.
Other results from the Spring 2003 survey show:
- 44 percent of respondents are using outside consultants to support HIPAA initiatives with larger hospitals (46 percent) and payers (66 percent) as the top two segments working with consultants.
- Online sources such as e-mail list serves and Web sites, state medical associations and hospital associations have helped respondents achieve HIPAA compliance.
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