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IT Confidential: How Prepared Is Health Care For HIPAA?

Nice work if you can get it. John Halamka, CIO at CareGroup, which operates five Boston-area hospitals, is flying to London this week to meet with Lord Philip Hunt, Britain's minister of health. "The U.K. is also dealing with issues related to physicians accessing electronic medical records over the Internet versus protecting patient information," he says. Halamka hopes to share some insights with our Anglo friends into how U.S. health-care providers are tackling these challenges.

Speaking of health-care challenges, more than 80% of health-care providers and insurers say they expect to meet the April deadline for compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act's patient-privacy regulations, according to a survey conducted earlier this month (but not yet released) by Phoenix Health Systems, a health-care IT consulting firm. Companies have had two years to comply, yet many haven't even begun implementation work for privacy, says D'Arcy Guerin Gue, Phoenix Health's executive VP. In fact, many have only recently started "gap analysis" work to identify what needs to be fixed in their organizations to be compliant, Gue says.

A lot of health-care executives "see HIPAA as a real irritant," she says. "They'd much rather focus on providing health care and keeping their heads above water."

Staying on health care, American Health Holding, a Columbus, Ohio, health-care services provider, last week tapped Mary Olsen Dielman as CIO. Before American Health, Dielman was a consultant with Hire CIO, a Columbus IT-personnel firm, and VP of technology for Donatos Pizzeria, the McDonald's-owned restaurant chain.

If you're trying to sell technology in a tough market, who better to drive those sales than an experienced IT manager? That's the thinking behind NextiraOne's promotion earlier this month of CIO Stephanie Barter to chief operating officer and executive VP. In her new role, Barter will manage the company's sales force, its operating functions, and its professional-services division. "What I bring to the role is helping our sales staff think differently about how they make a sale to an enterprise organization," Barter says. "Being a CIO for this organization for the past year and a half, I had to focus on things like reducing costs and improving operational efficiencies. Now I have the challenge and opportunity of teaching our sales force how to sell a solution to a customer rather than just selling network management."

No fair! She knows the secret CIO handshake, the high sign, the code (payback, good; paradigm, bad). Blink twice if you know what I'm talking about-or, if you have an industry tip, then send it to jsoat@cmp.com or phone 516-562-5326. If you want to talk about privacy problems or our Anglo friends, meet me at InformationWeek.com's Listening Post: informationweek.com/forum/johnsoat.


To discuss this column with other readers, please visit John Soat's forum on the Listening Post.

To find out more about John Soat, please visit his page on the Listening Post.

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