Approximately 96% of Medicare Part A healthcare providers have "moderate to high expectations" that they will be in compliance with the HIPAA regulations on electronic transactions by the Oct. 16 deadline, though a large number of healthcare leaders are concerned that vendors and trading partners may not be ready, according to a survey by the HHS Office of Inspector General.
The OIG surveyed 150 Medicare providers--split evenly between those with light, medium and high volumes of Medicare Part A claims--between Nov. 26 and March 24 and found that 74% were ready to send and receive HIPAA claims at the time of their response.
One-fourth of respondents said they had begun testing transactions as of November 2002, though they were not required to do so until April 16, 2003, and 90% said they would have a testing strategy.
But just 44% of the providers had received notices from fiscal intermediaries or other third parties about coordinating tests of electronic transactions, according to the OIG report. This, the report says, is problematic because 84% percent of those surveyed are using outside systems vendors to help with HIPAA transaction compliance.
Six of every 10 respondents listed at least one barrier to compliance, the OIG says, the most common being that trading partners will not be ready, vendors will not be ready, their own organizations are short on staffing, training or technical resources and they simply need more time.
According to the OIG, shortcomings on the part of vendors and trading partners "would affect (organizations') own ability to implement the electronic standards."
Indeed, 56% of those surveyed say they are developing contingency plans in case they do not meet the Oct. 16 target date.