The CMS keeps information about the many federal privacy laws at a website that's as plain and uninviting as the online owner's manual for a lawn mower.
But that's about to change, perhaps as early as this week, according to the CMS, which is launching an upgrade to its website dealing with the administrative simplification section of the law.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act was a Christmas tree bill on which was hung not only health insurance reforms, as its name suggests, but also a host of other requirements dealing with the then-budding health information technology industry.
Most of the claims and payments of the healthcare industry now flow electronically, following HIPAA administration simplification rules under a subcategory called transactions and code sets.
HIPAA is best-known by patients and even many health informaticists for its pesky privacy and security rules, also a subcategory of administrative simplification. Rules for unique identifiers of healthcare participants such as provider and health plan IDs, and enforcement are also subcategories of administrative simplification.
But the HIPAA rules aren't simple, particularly those around privacy of medical records and patient consent—or lack thereof—when it comes sharing patients' medical records, with or without their permission. Lack of knowledge and understanding about HIPAA has humbugged the sharing of information since the law's inception.
The confusion continues to this day, evidenced by the uncertainty expressed by officials in Orlando, Fla., about the level of information-sharing they had available to them under the law in the wake of the mass shooting there earlier this month.
According to a CMS announcement about the new HIPAA website, “The updated pages will feature streamlined content and easier navigation.”