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URAC Rolls Out Revised Standards to Protect Personal Health Information and Boost Consumer Privacy on the Web
Date:10/30/2008

WASHINGTON, Oct. 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today URAC announced the rollout of significant revisions to its health information technology standards. The changes affect Health Web Site accreditation and URAC's HIPAA Privacy and Security Standards.

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20030501/URACLOGO)

URAC, an independent, non-profit accreditation organization, revised the HIPAA Privacy and Security standards to emphasize the need for annual workforce training. The revised standards clarify notice of privacy practices to consumers, including notice of material changes in privacy practices. Accredited organizations are now required to conduct a risk assessment. The risk assessment must include an analysis of the use of portable media such as USB drives and lap top computers -- a need generated by an evolving technology landscape and highlighted by HIPAA security regulators.

URAC pioneered Health Web Site accreditation in 2001 to assess the quality and privacy practices of URAC-accredited sites. Rapid changes and innovation in health care raise a number of pivotal challenges for organizations providing health information to consumers via the Internet. In response to this challenge, URAC has enhanced editorial transparency, requiring health Web site providers to verify and disclose the credentials of its health content reviewers and how it conducts credentials verification. This transparency is important to consumers who need to wisely evaluate the quality of the information they are using.

"As consumers now rely on the Web as their primary source of health information, URAC's Health Web Site Accreditation provides them with the confidence that the quality and credibility of the health information is transparent, with clear privacy practices and ethical standards," said John M. Hopkins, vice president of best practices for WebMD. "In keeping with the URAC standards, WebMD continues to deliver comprehensive, medically-reviewed information in a secure and trusted environment, to help consumers make more informed health decisions."

"The revisions mirror advancements in the market, and strengthen the credibility of organizations that provide information and services on the Web," said Douglas Metz, DC, chairman of URAC's Health Standards Committee and chief health services officer for American Specialty Health. "Accreditation protects the public interest by giving organizations a framework to ensure they are protecting personal health information and providing beneficial health information."

About URAC

URAC, an independent, nonprofit organization, is well-known as a leader in promoting health care quality through its accreditation and education programs. URAC offers a wide range of quality benchmarking programs and services that keep pace with the rapid changes in the health care system, and provide a symbol of excellence for organizations to validate their commitment to quality and accountability. Through its broad-based governance structure and an inclusive standards development process, URAC ensures that all stakeholders are represented in establishing meaningful quality measures for the entire health care industry. For more information, visit http://www.urac.org.


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