HIPAA Service Provider Finds Opportunity In HITECH Incentives

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HIPAA Security Specialist Joe Dylewski, president of ATMP Solutions, a southeast Michigan-based solution provider, has tapped into something big -- government funding for newly implemented health-care mandates.

The recently enhanced protections in government health-care privacy laws, outlined in President Obama’s stimulus package mandating that doctors’ offices and medical providers transfer their patient data to electronic health records, all come with a slew of financial incentives for businesses to make the transition.

And all that funding can be channeled to solution providers to make it happen, Dylewski said.

“If I’m a doctors’ office and elect to implement an EHR solution, I have certain obligations to protect that data and make it available,” he said. “The process needs the channel -- unless they have an office staff with HIPAA background. And I don’t find that nearly as frequently.”

The incentives are part of a plan to strengthen the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA. The federal law emerged in 1996 as a way to make health insurance portable from one provider to another, to reduce health-care costs, provide general administrative efficiencies and offer privacy and security around the exchanged information.

As part of the 2009 stimulus, formally known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the Obama administration put in place the newly implemented Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, designed to put some teeth into the HIPAA law.

“In order to effectively transmit and use electronic health information, they had to take HIPAA a little more seriously,” Dylewski said. “Now they were putting some enforcement around the security side of it.”

Specifically, HITECH contains incentives related to health-care IT designed to accelerate the adoption of electronic health record (EHR) systems among providers and deepen privacy and security protections available under HIPAA by increasing the potential legal liability for non-compliance and providing more tools for enforcement. Some of HITECH’s enforcement mechanisms included stiffer financial penalties and more varied and numerous fines affecting a wider swath of non-compliant organizations.

However, HITECH also contains financial incentives, designed to help medical providers convert patients’ sensitive health-care information to EHRs. Those incentives come in the form of payments and reimbursements for doctors’ offices and medical facilities if they could prove that they achieved a level of meaningful use. The funds would then be used to acquire and implement EHRs and security and privacy software.

And the channel can play a key role in implementing this process, Dylewski said.

Channel partners, such as ATMP Solutions, work in tandem with organizations like the Michigan Center for Effective IT Adoption (M-CEITA), one of about 60 federally funded regional IT centers that assist medical providers throughout the entire adoption process. Among other things, M-CEITA helps medical providers achieve “meaningful use” and access EHR incentive payments.

M-CEITA also serves as a liaison between the medical provider and channel partner, by assisting medical providers in search of service providers who will help them transition to EHRs and effectively secure patient data.


Next: HITECH Financial Incentives Translate Open Doors For Solution Providers

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