HIPAA Collaborative of Wisconsin

by Chrisann Lemery, RHIA, Nancy Davis, RHIA, Reesa Gottschalk, RHIA, and Sheila Zweifel, RHIT

In June 2001, a survey was distributed to healthcare providers by members of the Wisconsin Health and Hospital Association (WHA), Health Financial Managers Association (HFMA), and Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative. The purpose of the survey was to gather information regarding HIPAA implementation. This was yet another time-consuming survey in a series of independent HIPAA surveys that many found to be of questionable value. Members notified Wisconsin HIMA (WHIMA) of their concerns about the bevy of HIPAA compliance surveys and recommended a coordination of efforts across the state involving other healthcare groups.

Recognizing an innovative opportunity to establish themselves as leaders in the area of HIPAA implementation in Wisconsin, WHIMA moved quickly. WHIMA contacted WHA and expressed an interest in coordinating efforts to develop a non-duplicative approach to HIPAA in Wisconsin. WHA brought together the above professional organizations as well as payors, providers, and health plan representatives for a strategic planning meeting to explore a coordinated approach. Participants agreed that a collaborative forum should be created to facilitate and streamline HIPAA implementation. The goals of the forum would be to promote information sharing and learning, reduce duplicate efforts, and offer opportunities for partnering on implementation issues and initiatives. The “forum” quickly transitioned into the HIPAA Collaborative of Wisconsin (HIPAA-COW) with expanded membership including government agencies, advocacy groups, legal firms, and others impacted by HIPAA.

HIPAA-COW identified its mission, developed by-laws, established a Web site, determined its financial needs, began planning for meetings to draw participants from all facets impacted by HIPAA and became a regional WEDI-SNIP member. HIPAA-COW’s first general session was well attended, including members of WHIMA, HIMSS, and HFMA. Seventy-five percent of attendees at the first general session volunteered to participate in workgroups covering the three HIPAA areas. Two additional general sessions were held in 2002 highlighting privacy oversight and HIPAA-COW efforts. HIPAA-COW looks forward to presenting three educational sessions in 2003.

WHIMA sponsored Chrisann Lemery, RHIA, President, as a HIPAA-COW board member. She also serves as the Preemption Workgroup co-chair. Nancy Davis, RHIA is WHIMA member and a HIPAA-COW board member representing an integrated healthcare provider network. Recognizing the expertise of HIM professionals, the Board appointed two more HIM professionals to key roles – Sheila Zweifel, RHIT as co-chair of the Privacy Policy & Procedures and Patient Rights Documents workgroups, and Reesa Gottschalk, RHIA as Security Taskforce co-chair. Many other WHIMA members serve as members of the workgroups.

WHIMA members have been invaluable in the strategic development, operations, and success of HIPAA-COW. They have authored, developed and reviewed key deliverables that foster the spirit of collaboration and excellence amongst all entities involved in HIPAA implementation. Examples of these deliverables include multiple privacy policies, statements, forms, and educational presentations. These deliverables are available on the HIPAA-COW Web site and prominently feature the names of HIM contributors.

WHIMA’s participants have advanced HIM principles, promoted HIM professionals, and established WHIMA as a leader in developing HIPAA implementation in Wisconsin. WHIMA members have benefited from this as well as the “deliverables” produced by HIPAA-COW. These standardized deliverables put all health care organizations on the same page when implementing HIPAA practices.

Interested in initiating your own HIPAA Collaborative?  You can view or download HIPAA-COWs bylaws here.

Source: FORE Practice Solution (2003)