Top 25 Emerging Leaders
Jeannette Frey, 40
Privacy Officer, Fallon Community Health Plan
Give Fallon Community Health Plan Privacy Officer Jeannette Frey, 40, a pile of arcane patient-privacy laws to grapple with and you might be surprised by her reaction.
The first thing you'll notice is she isn't intimidated by the jargon, says her boss, Anne Doyle, executive vice president and chief compliance officer for the Worcester, Mass.-based Fallon.
Frey doesn't scratch her head in wonderment over how she'll turn abstract medical privacy laws into procedures and systems Fallon can use to maintain confidentiality on members' health records. Instead, she dives right in with a rare passion for the task.
“She has a wonderful ability to translate complex legal jargon into ‘here's what it means to us, and here's how it will translate in terms of what we do,' ” Doyle says. “She's done a remarkable job of pairing up with the IT people to put those protections in place so our employees don't have to think, ‘Am I sending protected information?' ”
Frey says she developed her interest in compliance law while still a night student at Boston's Suffolk University Law School. “I took a compliance class, and I really loved reading regulation and turning it into process and policy for an organization,” she says. During that time, Frey also landed a full-time day job with Tufts Health Plan's corporate compliance office. “Part of that involved privacy, and I enjoyed that more than anything else,” Frey says.
But while her primary duty is figuring out processes for safeguarding patient privacy, Frey also sees her role as a facilitator of timely care. Her goal, she says, is to always establish systems that, while maintaining privacy, don't complicate or slow the process of getting patients' medical records into the hands of appropriate providers. “It can make a difference in terms of how easily they can be treated,” Frey says. These days, Frey's big task is helping Fallon navigate the uncharted territory of patient privacy laws under healthcare reform. “That's going to be the immediate challenge, especially with the new breach-notification requirements” under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. Frey expects a lot of her time to be devoted to figuring out safe procedures for sharing information with providers that have established accountable care organizations and vendors that are providing specific types of clinical services. “I think the biggest challenge will be the unknown of what reform will look like,” Frey says.