Since Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tommy G. Thompson ratified the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy standard earlier this year (See "Decoding HIPAA," Outpatient Surgery, June 2001), many medical groups have challenged the regulation for one reason or another. As a result, speculation abounds that the standard could change significantly, or that the April 14, 2003, compliance date may be delayed. The result is that many in the outpatient surgery community are unsure how or whether to proceed with their compliance plans.
According to experts, facilities should proceed apace. While you should keep tabs on the issues, they say, do not compromise the current compliance schedule. "Although you may need to make minor modifications to your compliance plan if some of the challenges come to pass, it's much better to be in that position than to be caught with your pants down," advises Scott A. Edelstein, JD, MPA, with the Los Angeles office of the law firm McDermott, Will