News Briefs

House OKs standards for electronic records

The U.S. House of Representatives addressed the movement toward electronic commerce in early November when it passed legislation creating standards for electronic signatures and records. The Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (HR 1714) would set national standards for electronic signatures and records and give them the same legal validity as written contracts and documents. It would prohibit the enactment of any state law denying the legality of agreements that are electronically signed.

The legislation passed by 356-66, enough to override a possible presidential veto. The administration has opposed sections of the bill, saying they would undermine consumer protections.

The Electronic Industries Alliance (EIA) in Arlington, VA, praised the House for its "overwhelming bipartisan vote" to approve the legislation. "Passage of HR 1714 is a critical step in establishing confidence in electronic commerce, which will promote jobs, stimulate the economy, and create savings and opportunity for America’s consumers," says EIA president Dave McCurdy, former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

AHCPR promises to improve research oversight

The Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) in Rockville, MD, is developing recommendations, or "guiding national principles," for helping institutional review boards and similar groups protect against the disclosure of personal health information in research that could be used to identify individual patients.

The recommendations will help provide guidance to research reviewers as they review research projects using identifiable information and as they implement the department’s privacy regulations mandated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996. Proposed regulations for this act were announced by President Clinton on Oct. 29, 1999. Under HIPAA, a final rule is to be issued by Feb. 21, 2000, with a two-year implementation period for most covered entities.

The guiding national principles will be based on a study by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC, which is expected to be completed in summer 2000. HHS’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation is co-funding the contract with AHCPR.

Source Kit

Janice R. Noller, RRA, CS, CPHQ, quality improvement specialist, quality management department, Covenant Medical Center, Lubbock, TX. Telephone: (806) 725-1011.

Rita Scichilone, MHSA, RRA, CCS, practice manager in coding products and services, American Health Information Management Association, Chicago. Telephone: (712) 647-2646.

John Hamilton, manager of operations; Lori Anthony, administrative coordinator, Physicians Hospital and Physicians Healthcare Network, Columbus, OH. Telephone: (614) 268-8164.

Dave Fee, product marketing manager, 3M Health Information Systems, Salt Lake City. Telephone: (801) 265-4200.

Kristen Scholl, CVO operations manager, Novalis Credentialing Verification Organization, Albany, NY. Telephone: (518) 862-3400.