Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Song Sung Blue

Why is it almost always someone famous that sparks these audits? Remember a short while ago when a number of staff were fired or suspended for peeking at Bill Clinton's records? I know it it human nature to be curious about someone who is famous, but celebrities generally are considered to have given up some of their right to privacy, not earned the right to extra enforcement:

Buffalo, NY (WBEN) - In the wake of extensive publicity over Buffalo Bill Kevin Everett's on-field spinal injury, Kaleida Health has disciplined an employee after investigating possible violation of the federal health care privacy rules, known as HIPAA.

HIPAA (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) includes several privacy regulations that severely restrict who can access patient medical records.

The routine compliance audit found no violation of the federal rules that regulate access to medical records, but did uncover enough of an issue to have one employee suspended, according to sources.

Good for the hospital, but it shouldn't take a special case to remind folks about compliance.

Friday, December 07, 2007

The Boys are Back in Town

Some of you may have noticed that I haven't been updating as often as I used to. Well I've been pretty busy. My wife ran for office, and I also took a little time and wrote this:


That's right, I wrote a novel, you can buy it, and it is getting great reviews. Check it out--- it is about a woman in bronze age Mesopotamia who takes people out into the desert and feeds them to a monster. Its got blood, sword fights, betrayal, sorcery and death. You know, a love story.

Girl in the Mirror

This looks like it could have been written by me--- a sweet little rundown of Golden Hippo contenders for worst misuse of HIPAA, by Shanna Flowers of the Roanoke Times. Her centerpiece is this:

The latest example is William Byrd High School, where officials this week told an auditorium full of hysterical parents to stand down because there isn't a problem, but golly, if there is, they can't tell you all the facts. Just trust them -- they're doing everything they can.

Kids are sick, but we can't tell you the symtoms, and it isn't serious, but we can't tell you what it is, and its not contagious, but we can't tell you who it is.

Doctor My Eyes

Workplace Wellness programs are starting to look very attractive to many companies that are faced with impossible rises in the cost of benefits. Implementing a stop smoking plan, or providing incentivess for workers to live healthier can increase production, reduce sick days, and help to cut the overall healthcare costs of campany. But there are regulatory pitfalls that many don't understand, and find intimidating.
Here is a quick rundown from The Metropolitan Corporate Council on the steps employers need to take before embarking on such a program.

Nonetheless, employers contemplating a workplace wellness program are well advised to consider that conditioning a reduction in health care costs on satisfying a health-related goal, such as actual smoking cessation or meeting a certain cholesterol level, may be subject to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Nondiscrimination Rules and/or federal and state discrimination statutes. In addition, regardless of the structure contemplated, employers should consider requirements for wellness programs that may arise under the HIPAA Privacy Rule (45 C.F.R. 160,164).

Yeah, its a little on the dry side, but the information is well presented and worth knowing.