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Doctors worry HIPAA Privacy Rule compliance piles on burdens

Doctors are unsure whether the electronic health record (EHR) systems they use will allow them to comply with various requirements under the HITECH Act, according to the results of an industry survey.

The Medical Group Management Association conducted an online survey of its members, reaching 369 medical groups, in which more than 7,000 physicians practice. The results were compiled in a letter the MGMA submitted to the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), which had requested comments on its HIPAA Privacy Rule. That rule requires doctors to provide patients an accounting of each entity to which the doctor discloses personal health information for billing and administrative purposes.

Under proposed meaningful use requirements, providers will have to demonstrate their EHR systems can submit medical claims electronically. Doctors then will have to be able to aggregate each electronic submission into a report, if the patient requests one. However, doctors say they don’t believe it’s possible. Of the doctors in the MGMA survey, 41% said they didn’t know whether their EHR system was capable of generating such a report. Almost half — 45% — said their system could not perform this function.

Because the functions for providing administrative and billing reports are not fully developed, the MGMA is asking the OCR to delay the start date for disclosure compliance. In addition, the requirement for such reports is costly and will create an administrative burden on doctors while doing little to improve the quality of care, according to the MGMA.

“Once the final rules are released, vendors must develop the software necessary to support the meaningful use criteria, complete a still-unnamed certification process, deploy the software in their clients’ practices, conduct staff training and go live,” the association wrote in its letter. “We anticipate that this process will extend far beyond the Jan. 1, 2011, start date for the EHR incentive program and the suggested compliance date for the accounting of disclosures requirement.”

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Doctors worry HIPAA Privacy Rule compliance piles on burdens - Health IT Pulse