The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act turned 15 years old in August, and as evidence of its lasting impact, providers and payers will be scrambling over the next four months to meet yet another HIPAA compliance deadline.
This one is Jan. 1, 2012, according to an HHS rule, drawing on HIPAA authority, and it requires healthcare providers, health plans and claims clearinghouses to convert from a decade-old set of standards for electronic data interchange to its more modern counterpart.
In geek speak, the industry must switch from the current but outgoing ASC X12 Version 4010 family of standards to the updated Version 5010.
Both versions are products of the Accredited Standards Committee X12, a 32-year-old standards development organization chartered by the American National Standards Institute.
After a very late start, the healthcare industry appears to be making progress toward the conversion, but top-level experts as well as information technology leaders at hospitals and group practices warily suggest that the CMS would do well to have a backup plan.