Hungry Hungry HIPAA

April 17, 2003

Working in hospitals for the past 9 years, there were occasional problems with Federal mandates. Y2k planning started in 1996 and for me, meant 12 hour work days from June 1999 until January 1, 2000. In Fall of ’99, my boss who, was over Y2K preparedness, said that “Y2K was nothing….HIPAA was going to be Y2K II”. Was he right? Well not long after that, I got out of IT and into Marketing. From a HIPAA standpoint, it hit every department including Marketing. How we deal with e-mail newsletters, how we hold press releases, how we can even present the condition of someone to the media. Even our Chaplains have to adhere to HIPAA.

We went out to WalGreen’s to pick up a prescription for Niki, and the casher/Pharmacist Assistant was explaining to the person in the drive-through about this long form they had to sign, and passed along a booklet explaining all of this in detail. I asked the Casher about what they’re going through and she just said it was “hellish”.

While I think that HIPAA is a great thing for the protection of health information, it is a great example of bureaucracy in our lives. It will be a while until hospital registration is speedy, but it’s getting there with wireless registration on the bedside. HIPAA is just something we will have to get use to. I’m still amazed at how it’s reach into normal life is showing it’s self even two days after it went into effect. From chaplains to a pharmacy assistant, to commercials to anyone that works in a healthcare environment…it’s gonna be a part of life.