More than three-fourths of healthcare provider organizations made the April 14 compliance deadline for the HIPAA privacy regulations, a far better result than for payers and transaction clearinghouses, a new survey says.
In the most recent quarterly survey of HIPAA readiness efforts, healthcare information technology consulting firm Phoenix Health Systems and the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society find that 78% of providers queried indicated they were in compliance with the privacy rules by April 14. But only 68% of payers and 47% of clearinghouses were ready by the deadline.
Phoenix Health and HIMSS released the results of their 14th quarterly poll earlier this week. Some 697 healthcare organizations took part.
Provider organizations--mostly hospitals, but including a significant minority of small physician practices--lagged other segments in preparation for HIPAA rules governing electronic transactions and code sets. Slightly less than half of all providers surveyed said they were conducting internal transactions testing prior to the April 16 testing date set by CMS, compared with 62% of payers, 55% of technology vendors and 80% of clearinghouses.
Even fewer were testing transactions with external partners, the survey shows.
HIPAA transaction compliance "remains a struggle for many organization across the healthcare industry," according to the Phoenix Health report.
Organizations that send and receive electronic healthcare transactions must meet HIPAA standards by Oct. 16.
Phoenix Health asked for written comments from those indicating they were not likely to meet the Oct. 16 deadline. "It is startling that of the 105 organizations that provided comments, only 38 (35%) have any contingency plans for alternate transactions processing," the report says.
For the first time, survey respondents say that the No. 1 roadblock to HIPAA compliance is the fact that time is running short. They also say communication with business partners on HIPAA-related issues has tended to be less than optimal.
Each group apparently is passing the blame onto other partners, according to comments from respondents. Provider organizations bemoan the poor state of readiness among software vendors, since the HIPAA regulations do not apply to software companies. Payers are blaming providers for relying on vendors, while clearinghouses and vendors complain of a lack of guidance from payers.