Few people have as much experience as Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina’s Harry Reynolds when it comes to electronic health records. And he will share the benefits and challenges of digitizing, providing and protecting such sensitive data when Local Tech Wire kicks off its Executives Edge series for 2009 on Feb. 5 in Durham.
Reynolds, who is vice president of HIPAA and the Information Compliance Officer at BCBS N.C., is one of the panelists for “The Price of Doing Business – Protecting Your Client’s Data” program.
HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which was passed in 1996 by Congress and is the cornerstone of electronic medical records. The issue takes on increasing importance this year as the Obama Administration plans to make medical record modernization part of its economic revival agenda.
“Healthcare faced challenges such as ensuring the privacy and security of health information, as well as streamlining administrative processes across health insurers,” Reynolds tells Local Tech Wire. “HIPAA Privacy, HIPAA Security and the HIPAA transactions have standardized approaches to these challenges, while helping consumers become more comfortable about the confidentiality about their personal information.”
Reynolds has worked with HIPAA issues from the beginning at BCBSNC.
“I have been involved closely with HIPAA since 1996, when it focused on portability of health insurance and more extensively as it changed to Administrative Simplification,” he recalled. “I have been actively implementing HIPAA at BCBSNC, with the North Carolina Healthcare Information and Communications Alliance (NCHICA) in North Carolina and nationally on Capitol Hill and in my committee assignments.”
The challenges of creating and adopting HIPAA have not been easy.
“Health care faced challenges such as ensuring the privacy and security of health information, as well as streamlining administrative processes across health insurers,” Reynolds recalls. “HIPAA Privacy, HIPAA Security and the HIPAA transactions have standardized approaches to these challenges, while helping consumers become more comfortable about the confidentiality about their personal information.”
He has seen first hand how wide spread and costly the adoption of HIPAA has been.
“BCBSNC has spent tens of millions of dollars implementing HIPAA,” he explains.” Privacy and security were already robust at BCBSNC, so we mainly had to adjust to the actual structure of HIPAA and communicate key information about HIPAA to our customers and partners. The HIPAA transactions required significant changes to out computer systems and processes.”
The embracing of HIPAA extends far beyond healthcare insurers to providers, thus extending the need for protection of records. And challenges remain beyond privacy, such as return on investment, Reynolds points out.
“Health Information Privacy and Security are visibly front and center in all of our operations and staff are reminded yearly of their importance,” he says. “Information with business partners involved the appropriate safeguards also.”
However, Reynolds adds: “The adoption of HIPAA transactions by Hospitals and Physicians has not returned as much benefit in our administration as expected.”
Other data issues also will be discussed by the panel, which will be led by Susan Kellogg, chief information officer and associate dean of information technology at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School.
Also on the panel are Don Clow, chief technology officer of Hosted Solutions, and Tony Verdone, vice president of development and operations at MediClick.
The Feb.5 program begins at 11:30 a.m. at Bay 7 in the American Tobacco District. Lunch is included.
LTW also will host “The Price of Doing Business” in Charlotte on Feb. 18.
For more information and to register, visit the Local Tech Wire’s LTW Events page,