National HIPAA 5010 Testing Week: Will enough health orgs set sail?

By Tom Sullivan
04:42 PM

The first National HIPAA 5010 Testing Day that CMS held came and went like a ship in the night. Some folks may have sailed, but only those on board noticed – and CMS has yet to say much about the passage.

The intent was for healthcare clearinghouses, payers, providers to come together and test their compliance efforts, with access to Medicare Administrative Contractors, aka MACs, as well as a real-time help desk.

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It’s an inspired idea. Particularly since nearly every survey in existence, and likely some still in the works, points to little more than minimal headway being made, despite the January 1, 2012 compliance deadline. Some industry experts are even calling for a backup plan because so many are drifting so far behind the recommended timelines.

After initially deeming August 24, 2011 a second National HIPPA 5010 Testing Day, CMS declared next week, August 22-26, National HIPAA 5010 Testing Week. The theme is the same as the testing day, only it's extended to five days instead of one.

“CMS encourages all trading partners to participate in the National 5010 Testing Week,” according to the announcement. That includes the aforementioned clearinghouses, payers, and providers, of course, but other than to say that “several State Medicaid Agencies will be participating in the National 5010 Testing Week,” CMS remains vague about who exactly will show up.

Perhaps for some healthcare organizations having a single testing day just didn’t work with their schedules. That’s understandable. As is the reality that even the first movers will need more than one day – more than a week, even – to complete internal and external testing, of which CMS noted “successful testing is required before a trading partner may be placed into production.”

Too many other healthcare entities, however, are basically stuck in irons by vendors that still have not delivered the HIPAA 5010 software upgrades requisite to achieving compliance.

Now, it can certainly prove worthwhile for those organizations to dedicate some time working with partners and charting a course toward HIPAA 5010. But if the software that conducts HIPAA 5010 transactions is still unavailable, how can providers and payers avoid running aground?

Vote in our reader poll, please! Will you or won't you comply with HIPAA 5010 by January 1, 2012?