How one state prepared for HIPAA rules

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act's privacy rules that take effect next month run to 40 pages in the Federal Register 'in three columns, in tiny print,' said Mary Gerlach, CIO of New Mexico's Health Department.

Her state operates substance abuse and mental health services for 1.8 million widely dispersed residents.

It also has programs for the developmentally disabled, as well as six residential health facilities, hospitals and a research laboratory. There are no county health departments and only the city of Albuquerque has its own health department.

Gerlach said New Mexico had no choice but to establish an electronic tracking system for the HIPAA privacy information.

'Instead of remediating our legacy systems, we built the Integrated Client Data System atop our legacy systems,' Gerlach said. ICDS runs under Microsoft Windows 2000 Server and uses Active Directory services. It has a SQL Server 2000 back end and an ASP.net front end.

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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