Unless you have been asleep at the wheel for the last couple of weeks we are certain that you have heard the buzz surrounding Anthem breach. The sheer magnitude of this breach has made it impossible to ignore. There can be no doubt that the HIPAA (post HITECH) awareness level is now "off the charts." However, what we want to explore in this article are the changes that are likely to occur "on the ground" as a result of Anthem (i.e. increased funding for, and acceleration of, HIPAA compliance initiatives ("HCIs")).
The "Big Boys" (i.e. those with dedicated privacy & security staff) are no doubt going to "study" Anthem for the lessons learned. There will be increased debate (well underway) as to whether "data at rest" should be encrypted or not (from our perspective there is NO DATA CENTER anywhere, including those of the intelligence agencies world-wide, hardened enough to disregard encryption, but we digress). The Big Boys have been working on their HCIs for quite some time now (i.e. recall that the HITECH Act was promulgated in 2009); but what about everybody else?
For everyone else, Anthem is likely to be met with a collective "yawn." The healthcare industry has already experienced significant breaches and none of them have "moved the needle" in any meaningful way. Why? Part of the reason is that the healthcare industry is currently undergoing 150 years of change in 5 (e.g. EHRs, Pay-for-Performance, Accountable Care Organizations, Quality Measures, Pricing Transparency, mHealth, BYOD, Mergers & Acquisitions, Telemedicine, Big Data...etc., etc.). In this kind of environment the "red headed step child," otherwise known as HIPAA, (yet to be transformed from a necessary evil to part of an organization's DNA) will be an initiative that remains underfunded and understaffed. We don't expect that to change anytime soon, at least not in the short run (i.e. the next couple of years).
So the bottom line is that we don't expect to see the healthcare masses (aka "the herd") get "fired up" about HIPAA anytime soon, no matter how many Anthems hit the headlines. However, what we do expect is that the media the feeds the herd will be covering HIPAA compliance at a "fever pitch" because Anthem is big time headline news. This coverage will be much more rigorous than it has in the past as various healthcare media outlets compete for mind share as the "goto source" for HIPAA content.
Slowly, we expect to see the media blitz peel off some followers (i.e. of the early adopters) and convince them that "doing nothing" is not a viable strategy going forward. The more of these followers that get removed from the herd the more the herd will become restless. At some point in time (i.e. 3 to 5 years out--remember this is the healthcare industry we are talking about) a tipping point will be reached and the herd will stampede en masse; well all accept those grumpy 'old docs that would prefer to retire or go to jail than comply with HIPAA; ain't no government going to tell that good 'ole boys club what to do.
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The first edition of the ACO Survival Guide (Guide) provides an overview of the regulations and the challenges and strategies for successful establishment of an Accountable Care Organization. It supports the educational needs of ACOs and discusses obstacles and challenges related to the performance standards to which ACOs must achieve in order to receive their portion of the savings provided to Medicare. In addition, the Guide also discusses the need for data aggregation and monitoring quality metrics with a robust technical architecture.
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