Regulatory forces hit hard

This year was an eventful one for new healthcare regs. Not only did it see the initial launch of the RAC program and the beginnings of the conversion from ICD-9 to ICD-10 5010 coding, CMS began to impose stiffer HIPAA penalties on hospitals that egregiously violated the rules. What's more, the Federal Trade Commission announced plans to institute "red flag" rules requiring providers to create policies to create policies for finding and preventing medical identity theft.

Any one of these changes would impose a significant burden on healthcare organizations, especially the health IT, billing/coding and quality assurance departments, but taken together they represent something of a firestorm. In retrospect, we think 2009 will be seen as a pivotal year for health administration, even if the majority of these efforts don't have an immediate effect on patient care.

Of course, reform should bring many more regulations, but until the president's signature is on the bill, anything could happen, so we'll put off more discussion of reform-related challenges until next year. But even if reform legislation didn't include a single new regulation--which won't happen--providers certainly have been given a more-than-full plate of issues to handle.

Related Articles:
Doctors win 4th delay of FTC 'red flag' rules
Seattle health system will pay $100K HIPAA fine 
CIOs don't feel prepared for ICD-10