Health Information Management

Two tips on HITECH compliance

HIM-HIPAA Insider, December 21, 2009

The deadline for compliance with some of the major HITECH requirements comes in February. Consider these tips as you prepare for the approaching deadline:

  • Create a form for new contracts. Have a form in place for new contracts between business associates (BAs) and covered entities. "Develop a form and adapt it going forward," says John R. Christiansen, founder of Christiansen IT Law in Seattle. As far as existing BA contracts go, it will be "really difficult to track down all of your BA contracts and assemble them,"  he says. Some of the BAs may not know why you're contacting them. "It can be a daunting process," Christiansen adds.
  • Research how HITECH wording applies to contracts. HITECH states covered entities must incorporate the new provisions into their BA contracts. Does that mean they're automatically a part of the BA contract? Or does each covered entity have to update its contracts to reflect the HITECH changes? Christiansen says he's heard lawyers leaning toward each scenario. He advises clients to amend their own agreements. That way, they can include their own language that works better for their relationship with the BA. "(Otherwise), you've got this law automatically applied," Christiansen says. "That may be fairly hard to work with."

Editor’s note: See next week’s
HIPAA Weekly Advisor for more HITECH compliance tips.

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