HIPAA and the Electronic Signature Act            by Dr. Roz Seymour

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and its code set of rules was published in the Federal Register by the Department of Health and Human Services in August of 2000. These rules establish standards for many electronic healthcare transactions such as claims, enrollment, eligibility, payments and remittances, and referrals. These final rules also establish standards for several clinical coding sets including ICD-9-CM, CPT-4, and HCPSS. Compliance for most is set for October 17, 2000.

There is not a requirement, in the final rules, for a healthcare organization to automate any of its transactions but if they choose to do so, the rules of HIPAA must be abided. An interesting component of the final rules states that even if one entity is conducting electronic transactions with another entity under the same umbrella they must still comply with the standards (Kelly, 2000).

The Electronic Signature Act of 2000 will go into effect on October 1, 2000. A computer user will be able to sign documents on line via an electronic algorithm. A user will have a unique series of numbers that authenticates their identity as a sender or signer of an electronic document. So, from October 1 on, online electronic signatures will have the same legal status as traditional signatures.

(Kelly, B. (September, 2000). HIPAA transactions and code sets. Health Data Management, 2)