Patient New considers the privacy, confidentiality, and security of patients’ health information as an essential component of our business relationship with our clients. Safe and secure handling of the patient information provided to us by clients is a crucial aspect of our business, and we undertake this responsibility very seriously. Toward that end, we are committed to practices and procedures that are consistent with the standards mandated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”), which will assist our clients in complying with the regulatory requirements imposed upon them by HIPAA.
Recognizing that we may qualify as a “business associate” under the HIPAA standards with respect to the privacy of individually identifiable health information, Patient News has revised its standard confidentiality agreement. The terms of this newly revised confidentiality agreement comply with all of HIPAA’s content requirements for business associate contracts. (Note: Revised agreement to be forwarded with the spring Quarterly Update in January 2003.)
Patient News also has a program in place to monitor new developments and changes to the HIPAA standards, and we intend to adjust our policies, procedures and, if necessary, the confidentiality agreement so that our clients may remain in compliance with HIPAA. Accordingly, when the proposed HIPAA security rule becomes final, we expect to modify our practices to the extent required to facilitate our clients’ further compliance with applicable HIPAA regulations.
Of course, our efforts alone are insufficient to ensure that our clients achieve and maintain HIPAA compliance. Since the HIPAA standards are not directly applicable to Patient News, the bulk of compliance efforts and activities will fall upon our clients that are covered entities under HIPAA. The policies and procedures that we employ comprise only a part of all that is required of covered entities under the HIPAA standards and mandates. Therefore, in order for our clients to be fully compliant with HIPAA, they will need to become fully versed in the extensive HIPAA regulations, assess their current business practices, and modify accordingly, begin ongoing training of their staff, and adopt and incorporate comprehensive policies and procedures that will govern the use and disclosure of patients’ protected health information in a responsible and legal manner.
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