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HIPAA Costs and Patient Perceptions of Privacy Safeguards at Mayo Clinic

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Background: A study was conducted to assess the costs of implementation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and to report patient awareness of Notices of Privacy Practices (NPP) content and HIPAA privacy protections.

Methods: All HIPAA start-up and implementation costs were collected prospectively. A random sample of 2,000 patients receiving services at the Mayo Clinic after HIPAA implementation (April 14, 2003) was surveyed about HIPAA knowledge, HIPAA content, and privacy concerns.

Results: Comprehensive measures of total HIPAA costs and costs related only to privacy practices were amortized over 7, 15, and 20 years. Patient knowledge of privacy protections and attitudes toward HIPAA were obtained from 1,309 (65.5%) respondents. The total HIPAA startup costs were $4,663,672. Fully amortized costs (annual plus start-up costs) were $1 per patient visit or $5 per patient per year. Costs for the privacy portion were $2,734,855. These costs were about $.90 per patient visit or about $4 per patient per year. Patients indicated high levels of awareness of HIPAA (71%), reading the NPP (79%), knowledge about HIPAA (80% with 6+ correct answers on a 10-item quiz), and improved feelings of privacy (44% versus 55% the same).

Discussion: Patients reported high levels of knowledge about HIPAA and confidence in privacy protections. HIPAA costs were modest per patient or per visit.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2008

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  • Published monthly, The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety is a peer-reviewed publication dedicated to providing health professionals with the information they need to promote the quality and safety of health care. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety invites original manuscripts on the development, adaptation, and/or implementation of innovative thinking, strategies, and practices in improving quality and safety in health care. Case studies, program or project reports, reports of new methodologies or new applications of methodologies, research studies on the effectiveness of improvement interventions, and commentaries on issues and practices are all considered.

    David W. Baker, MD, MPH, FACP, executive vice president for the Division of Healthcare Quality Evaluation at The Joint Commission, is the inaugural editor-in-chief of The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.

    Also known as Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement and Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Safety
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