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Medprivacy Sounds Alarm About Compliance With Federal Privacy Laws

Insurance companies, healthcare providers, pharmacies, doctors, hospitals–the whole gamut of those who deal with patients’ records–must comply with the federal government’s health information privacy act by 2002.


September 21, 2000
Copyright © 2000 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

Medprivacy Puerto Rico is sounding the alarm among Puerto Rico’s approximately 10,000 healthcare providers who need to comply with the federal government’s health information privacy act by 2002. The standard could cost nearly $150 million just to implement on the island and another $10 million annually to administer.

Medprivacy Puerto Rico is a subsidiary of Global Privacy Solutions, a company dedicated to creating privacy solutions for the Internet since 1994. With headquarters in Washington, D.C., the company provides services related to information privacy.

The company can establish and publish medical privacy principles, standards and practices; maintain records; provide web-based and printed educational materials, training and certification for employees and administrators; and assist clients’ patients with any inquiries or complaints.

In 1996, the federal government approved the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (Hipaa). It created standards for information management and assured privacy. In February, it was established that health plans, managed-care organizations, insurance companies, and healthcare providers such as doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, and electronic clearinghouses will need to create their privacy programs.

"By 2002, stringent requirements will make it imperative for healthcare providers to establish individual formal privacy programs. Small and mid-sized health organizations will be most affected due to their limited budgets and information systems. Medprivacy can provide a full range of privacy administrative services in addition to the web-based training and certification of employees and administrators so they can manage their program," said Salvatore "Sal" Nolfo, president of Vicom and exclusive representative for Medprivacy in Puerto Rico.

According to Nolfo, over 90% of health providers are not compliant with Hipaa’s requirements and time to implement a suitable plan is quickly running out. "Medprivacy’s web-based solution involves no hardware investment for the client and can be easily updated. The program even provides for information updates as new privacy laws take effect. It takes between six and 12 months to plan a program, even for a small or mid-size company."

"But it can then take up to 18 months to implement that program, including its practices, training, systems, and complete verification. Large companies may have the resources or manpower to implement their own privacy programs, but many times they depend on smaller health providers to also be in compliance."

In order to assist smaller health providers in what may be costly compliance, Medprivacy is marketing a sponsorship program to underwrite a portion of their implementation and operation costs, which they calculate will cost $250,000. The company will sell advertising space on Medprivacy Online pages and in users’ private home pages. Sponsors may also conduct direct e-mail advertising campaign.

In October, Medprivacy will begin a series of seminars where participants will be trained in the implementation of Hipaa standards. Healthcare organizations in Puerto Rico will also receive abbreviated training materials and other training courses will be offered to supplement both activities.

"Companies who would most benefit from this sponsorship program include health insurance agencies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and other companies with interests in the health industry," Nolfo said. "By providing the venue for all healthcare providers to comply with Hipaa standards, delays can be reduced."

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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