HHS Estimates 32.8 Million Hours Of Interaction Required To Comply With HIPAA Privacy And Security Rules

Posted on by Frank J. Rosello

About 3,720 years ago, the Code of Hammurabi and the founding of the Babylonian Empire were already old news, but war chariots were about to become the hottest thing in weapons technology. Put another way, that’s roughly 32.8 million hours ago.

And that’s the number of hours HHS estimates it will take people in the U.S. interacting with the healthcare industry to comply with the privacy and security rules of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.

Most of that whopping number represents annual time consumption. The exception is for roughly 619,000 hours of “new burdens associated with the final rule” issued by HHS this January to reflect the amendments to the two acts in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

These numbers of truly historic proportions are contained in a notice from the HHS Office for Civil Rights and published in the Federal Register. The civil rights office is the chief federal enforcement agency for the HIPAA privacy and security rules.

The biggest new time sink under changes to the rules wrought by the ARRA are the estimated 350,000 hours it will take 300,000 organizations to comply with the requirement for “Documentation of Security Rule Policies and Procedures and Administrative Safeguards” for business associates of HIPAA covered entities, according to the OCR notice.

But many centuries of time—nearly 35 centuries, in fact, or just short of 30.7 million hours—will be devoted each year by healthcare providers and patients for the dissemination to patients and their acknowledgement of HIPAA notices of privacy practices for protected healthcare information, HHS estimates. Even at just 3 minutes apiece, with 613 million of these routine privacy notices to be delivered, signed and stored, the time adds up.

The estimates in the notice were submitted to the Office of Management and Budget for its review and approval in compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.

Article written by Joseph Conn

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