HHS' Office for Civil Rights plans to release final rules related to the HITECH Act and HIPAA privacy and security regulations next year, according to a senior OCR official, HealthLeaders Media reports.
Adam Greene, senior health IT and privacy specialist at OCR, spoke during day one of a two-day meeting hosted by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT. He said the HITECH- and HIPAA-related rules will be released simultaneously and will relate to:
- Health data breach notification;
- Enforcement of privacy and security regulations; and
- Modification to the HIPAA rules that were included in the HITECH Act.
Greene also said a proposed rule on accounting disclosures for electronic health records will be released in 2011. The HITECH Act directs OCR to expand a HIPAA provision to include disclosures on treatment, payment and health care operations through EHRs.
Greene did not provide information on the status of a HITECH Act program that calls for periodic audits of HIPAA compliance (Nicastro, HealthLeaders Media, 12/14).
Health Care Leaders Comment on Potential of Health IT
During the first day of ONC's meeting, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said this year "will begin a whole new chapter in heath IT" as the country takes steps to implement the federal health reform law.
National Coordinator for Health IT David Blumenthal added that health IT could play a key role in the establishment of accountable care organizations, bundled payment systems and other elements of the reform law.
Joining the meeting via video, CMS Administrator Donald Berwick said health IT will help the U.S. improve care, bolster population health and reduce costs (Zigmond, Modern Healthcare, 12/14).
Blumenthal Reviews Year in Health IT
Also during the meeting, Blumenthal described progress in several programs related to health IT. He noted that:
- ONC has designated five authorized testing and certification bodies and that the ATCBs have approved more than 130 EHRs and EHR modules under a temporary certification program for EHRs;
- 62 regional health IT extension centers are assisting physicians in adopting EHRs;
- 56 states and territories have submitted applications and more than 20 states now have approved implementation plans for regional health IT initiatives;
- 17 Beacon communities are using federal grants to improve health information exchange activities in local communities; and
- 2,400 individuals have enrolled in community work force training programs for health IT (Stevens, CMIO, 12/14).