The revamped HIPAA privacy, security and breach notification rules may be coming out in the next few months, but the government's focus on protecting health information won't stop with the rules.

Privacy and security are included in all the hot federal health policies of today, including meaningful use, value-based purchasing, bundled payments, quality measurements, accountable care organizations, and auditing.

The industry will see an increasing emphasis on data integrity, according to Dan Rode, vice president for policy and advocacy at the American Health Information Management Association. "So, if we're thinking of data integrity, we have to think of integrity at the source point," he said during a session at AHIMA's 2011 Convention & Exhibit in Salt Lake City.

Data integrity will further play a large role as emphasis increases on giving patients access to their health information, and HIM professionals need to lend their expertise as providers determine how to give access. Among the issues: authentication for access via Web portals, educating patients about encryption and the downloading of information to personal health records and sharing that information, and providing education as laboratories start to send test results directly to patients.

A lot of people in a health care organization already have access to patient data and a whole lot more will have access under bundled payment and accountable care organization programs, Rode noted. Later stages of meaningful use likely will require segmentation of sensitive data via the use of metadata, giving patients more control over who sees their information. That means that the HIT Policy and Standards Committees in about a year will get deeper into privacy and security issues.

Health information exchanges will create new data integrity issues, as each exchange does things differently. It's important, Rode asserted, that HIM professionals get involved in HIEs "because release of information and authentication are very important and not well understood."


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