Penn State Intercom......April 18, 2002

Lindstrom named
special assistant to the provost

In response to the need to lead a University-wide assessment, planning and implementation process, David Lindstrom has been appointed special assistant to the provost for compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

"The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 is a wide-ranging piece of legislation that affects many areas of University operation," said Rodney Erickson, executive vice president and provost. "In order to assure we protect the privacy of patients, and assure the maintenance of secure electronic medical information systems, we must have a coordinated University-wide compliance effort and need an experienced administrator to lead that process."

HIPAA will affect the storage and transmission of "protected health information" and will impact all units of the University where patients are treated or where University faculty conduct research involving patient information. Whether the patient information is derived from Penn State sources or outside parties, the University is required to assure the security and privacy of this information.

Lindstrom has been a health administrator with faculty appointments at Penn State for 26 years. Originally responsible for the development of Emergency Medical Services curriculum and instructional systems, he currently is associate director for administrative services at the University Health Services.

"While assuming his duties as special assistant to the provost, he will retain approximately 50 percent of his duties within University Health Services," according to William W. Asbury, vice president for student affairs.

"David has extensive experience in health-care administration and in academic programming which we think will be helpful to the provost in his effort to direct the HIPAA assessment and planning process."

According to Lindstrom, "HIPAA might better have been titled, 'The Patient Information Privacy and Security Act,' especially as it applies to us here at Penn State. Since HIPAA will affect many University units, I will rely heavily on the support of the entire University community as we respond to this complex piece of legislation."

The final version of the Privacy Regulations of HIPAA have been published and all covered entities must comply by April 2003. Regulations regarding the security section of the legislation are expected to be released soon and will focus on electronic and physical security of health information.

"The first stages of our effort to evaluate the impact of HIPAA already have begun. We have surveyed several clinical treatment units and already are aware of the complexity of the regulations," Lindstrom said. "One of our goals will be to review our existing policies and practices to be sure we comply with HIPAA in such a way that we continue to effectively address the diverse mission of the University."

Lindstrom's appointment will be University-wide in scope and will have an impact on all Penn State locations except the College of Medicine.

"The Milton S. Hershey Medical Center has a substantial compliance effort under way and current plans call for the College of Medicine to be covered by the efforts of the medical center," Lindstrom said.

For more information about HIPAA, check the Web at http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/hipaa/.

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