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Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2001 May 1;58(9):763-70.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act: security and privacy requirements.

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Baxa Corporation, 13760 East Arapahoe Road, Englewood, CO 80112-3903, USA.


The security and privacy requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and their implications for pharmacy are discussed. HIPAA was enacted to improve the portability of health care insurance for persons leaving jobs. A section of the act encourages the use of electronic communications for health care claims adjudication, mandates the use of new standard code sets and transaction sets, and establishes the need for regulations to protect the security and privacy of individually identifiable health care information. Creating these regulations became the task of the Department of Health and Human Services. Regulations on security have been published for comment. Regulations on privacy and the definition of standard transaction sets and code sets are complete. National identifiers for patients, providers, and payers have not yet been established. The HIPAA regulations on security and privacy will require that pharmacies adopt policies and procedures that limit access to health care information. Existing pharmacy information systems may require upgrading or replacement. Costs of implementation nationwide are estimated to exceed $8 billion. The health care community has two years from the finalization of each regulation to comply with that regulation. The security and privacy requirements of HIPAA will require pharmacies to review their practices regarding the storage, use, and disclosure of protected health care information.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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