OIG: Most ready for HIPAA

Thursday, July 31, 2003

WASHINGTON - An OIG survey released last month found that 94% of Medicare Part B providers expect to meet the Oct. 16 deadline for implementing the HIPAA electronic transaction standards and code sets.

The survey, conducted between Dec. 2002 and Jan. 2003, evaluated the responses of 150 Part B providers, including 12 DME companies and 107 physicians. Almost all of the surveyed providers had submitted a compliance extension form, which gave them until October to achieve compliance.

At the time of the survey, 96% of the providers were in the process of or had completed an implementation schedule; 46% had begun to test applications of the electronic transactions; only 27% had conducted a cost-benefit analysis for implementing the standards.

Clinical 1 Home Medical in Weymouth, Mass. spent about $5,000 getting ready for HIPAA. The company’s president wrote a 100-page manual, detailing privacy procedures, and then trained his 17 employees.

“I set aside one whole week last September,” said Michael McDonald, Clinical 1’s president. “I locked my office and wrote the policy. The little things - like making sure the right lingo’s on the fax cover sheet - took most of my time.”

Writing the manual and training Clinical 1 staff on it was half the two-prong push to make sure the company was ready; the other half was making sure Clinical 1’s software vendor was ready.

“On Jan. 1, I found out they were ANSI compliant,” said McDonald. “That’s all I needed to hear.” HME