Healthcare organizations spend and worry more about litigation and regulations than their counterparts in many other industries, study finds. Specialized software helps.
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When a Southern hospital fired its IT director for cause, the disgruntled ex-employee quickly countered by filing two lawsuits. That hospital is not alone: Healthcare organizations faced a growing number of investigations and litigation in 2013, according to a report from Norton Rose Fulbright, a multinational law firm.
The hospital's attorneys sought help from CynergisTek, a consulting firm focused on regulatory compliance in healthcare, said CynergisTek CEO Mac McMillan, who also is chair of the Health Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Privacy and Security Policy Task Force. The former IT director raised nine issues with the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Civil Rights, McMillan told InformationWeek, but the hospital's best-practices, preparedness, and technologies ensured it quickly negated all but one of the ex-employee's claims.
"On the ninth one -- that people had accessed his record inappropriately -- we found there was evidence of that, but it wasn't by anybody else. It was by him," said McMillan. "The hospital had a policy you couldn't look at your own record, and the only one who looked at his own record was him."
Not all healthcare organizations resolve legal matters as quickly or as inexpensively. But many organizations, from solo practitioners to huge pharmaceutical companies, faced regulatory and litigation scrutiny in 2013, according to Norton Rose Fulbright's "Annual Litigation Trends" survey. In fact, 52% of healthcare organizations viewed legal problems as a top concern in 2013, versus 24% in 2012 and 41% of all respondents. Two-thirds of healthcare organizations were involved in some kind of regulatory investigation last year, the survey reported; in half those cases, the Department of Justice led the investigation.
In addition, 55% of healthcare respondents were involved in more than 20 lawsuits, compared with 30% of the overall sample. As a result, 49% of healthcare organizations spent $5 million or more on litigation last year. Sixty percent of these organizations have one or more arbitrations pending, the report found.
Privacy and data protection generated problems for 67% of the healthcare organizations polled. By comparison, 60% of technology and communications
Alison Diana has written about technology and business for more than 20 years. She was editor, contributors, at Internet Evolution; editor-in-chief of 21st Century IT; and managing editor, sections, at CRN. She has also written for eWeek, Baseline Magazine, Redmond Channel ... View Full Bio
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