The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, better known as HIPAA, was passed by Congress to protect individuals and their medical privacy. It was the first time the government set a policy to protect patient rights. All health care providers had to modify their procedures to comply. Much has changed in both the health care field and communications technology since 1996. HIPAA regulations have been regularly modified to adapt to these changes so health care providers are constantly in catch-up mode.
In 1996, the cloud was still a future concept and even today many health care professions have only a vague idea of what the term really means. These professionals may be highly educated, but the medical field is so far removed from the world of Internet telephony, SaaS (News - Alert), hosted VoIP, hybrid fax and other cloud technologies that the terms have little meaning. Regardless, many organizations have been attracted by the many benefits of cloud solutions including the inherent disaster recovery features, as mandated by HIPAA, and have been migrating to the cloud. This migration has created some concern among government regulators who feel that security is being jeopardized.
Some people feel that the recent changes to the HIPAA rules are an attempt to slow down the migration process and refocus the health care industry on security. This has many companies worried that maybe the technology is not ready and migrating now could put their operations at risk. Many decisions are being put on hold.
Those of us that have been following TMC (News - Alert) know that data storage, communications, hosted services and other cloud technologies can be very secure if implemented properly. Personally, I refer to these as TMC technologies, since TMC has been so instrumental in introducing them to the world at large.
In looking at the marketplace, very large health care organizations such as major insurance companies have the resources to manage the migration process themselves, but smaller organizations do not. However, this situation opens up a great opportunity for experienced TMC technologies resellers to partner with health care organizations and provide the expertise necessary for them to migrate and still be HIPAA compliant. To become more familiar with this market, visit the TMC home page and select Health Technology located in the center of the top banner.
Max Schroeder (News - Alert) is senior vice president of FaxCore Inc. (www.faxcore.com) and managing director of the DPCF.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi