The 1996 enactment of the Federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), coupled with the passage of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) as part of the 2009 American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, has transformed how health information is handled. HIPAA tightened security, established protected health information, defined the “authorized entity” requirement and created strict guidelines regarding how much of a patient’s medical record can be viewed by the authorized entity.

The challenge for organizations is to stay abreast of the most current rules and regulations while developing an efficient means to access, extrapolate and disseminate protected health information. How does this relate to the insurance industry? Since there may be a medical record portion to the various claims files, establishing HIPAA best practices for an organization’s claims handling process increases consistency and provides staff with clear, concise directions on HIPAA policies and procedures.

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