On Twitter @HCI_GPerna just posted that the Dept of Health & Human Services has announced the long-awaited rule changes to HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. These are the changes to implement HITECH, the 2009 stimulus bill that brought us the EMR incentives and Meaningful Use.

Next week the changes will be officially published on this Federal Register page. Until then, a pre-publication PDF is available on that page. (563 pages, and that’s just for the changes!)

I don’t have a clue yet what the changes are – just shooting this notice out fast. Some coverage:

The commentary I’m most eagerly awaiting is from Deven McGraw of the Center for Democracy and Technology, widely regarded as one of the few (if not the only) truly authoritative source on what HIPAA’s existing regulations do and don’t say.

HIPAA is mostly not what people think.

HIPAA is widely misunderstood, and that’s important, because it’s commonly cited as a reason why a hospital can’t give you your own information. Most people don’t even know what HIPAA stands for, and many can’t even spell it right – they spell it HIPPA.

For a very brief introduction, see this post on my personal site, featuring a Seinfeld clip where Elaine tries to see her chart. (She’d been marked “difficult.”)

More news as it happens.

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