HIPAA & Beyond: Business Opportunities at the Intersection of Privacy, Technology, & Healthcare

Submitted by Ted Takacs on Fri, 02/18/2005 - 11:12.

This session, sponsored by BioEnterprise and NEOSA, took place at the new HealthSpace Cleveland facility at 8911 Euclid Avenue, across the street from the Cleveland Clinic. The focus of the session was on the business implications of HIPPA and other regulations on the Healthcare and IT sectors. The scope of the panel discussion and question and answer session encompassed a far broader range of topics relating to the challenge of developing technical solutions that facilitate the implementation of Electronic Medical Records (EMR), the standardization of EMR records, and the sharing of EMR records among healthcare providers.

HIPAA – What is it? What’s Happened? What’s Next
The first panelist, Kathleen Golovan, Director of Legal Affairs at Medical Mutual presented an overview of HIPAA regulations and their impact on business practices. Ms. Golovan emphasized that HIPAA requirements extends beyond the Medical and IT communities. All parties handling medical records are affected by HIPAA regulations. This includes insurance providers, paper shredders, EMR and web service providers, and billing services. Medical records are “owned� by the patient, so parties handling patient medical records must restrict access parties authorized by the patient to view these records. The “good news� is that HIPAA and other regulations are driving businesses toward standardized business processes and well-defined security models.

The Opportunity for Technology Innovation: Employer Perspective
Kelly Victory, M.S., M.D., FACEP, and Chief Medical Officer of Whole Health Management, Inc. discussed some of the specific technology needs of medical practitioners. Medical diagnostic services represent only 25% of the service areas requiring technical solutions to facilitate processes and to meet regulatory requirements. Tools are needed to enable managed health processes within the medical community.

The objective is to identify at-risk people and engage in preventative behaviors before symptoms of disease occur. Disease management requires a dialogue among medical service providers, employers, and patients. Employers can realize huge savings in health service costs for their employees by providing incentives for at-risk employees to modify behaviors that increase the risks of health problems.

A large challenge to technology providers is to recreate the intricacies of the communication between the clinician and patient. For example, drop-down menus frequently lack adequate choices to record medical information. Another technical challenge is the development of more efficient billing systems. Currently, 25% to 28% of the overhead of physicians is spent on getting paid for services.

Challenges & Opportunities in Implementing Electronic Medical Records
Christopher Harris, Information Technology & Solutions, University Hospitals Health Systems, discussed key technical challenges to the implementation of Electronic Medical Records systems. The migration of legacy medical records and data is both a huge challenge and opportunity. Standardization within the medical communities represents another major challenge. Electronic Medical Records systems must facilitate the transfer of information between the systems of different organizations. Finally, there is a critical need for IT professionals who have an in-depth knowledge of the medical processes in a variety of departments and organizations.

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