Kaiser Permanente, the Oakland, Calif.-based staff-model HMO, will us an Internet-based system to train all staff members about HIPAA (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), which creates federal privacy rights for personal health information and is scheduled to take effect in April 2003.

The HIPAA "Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information" are intended to ensure patients that the privacy of their medical records is secure, and to ensure that this information is used appropriately, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

The vendor for the project is HCPro Corp., based in Marblehead, Mass. The company's online learning division, HCProfessor, was launched in June 2001 and today offers courses online in such topics as HIPAA compliance, Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations' (JCAHO) pain management standards, JCAHO medical staff standards, and Medicare billing compliance. Users will also find CE (continuing education) quizzes for coding compliance and restraints.

Kaiser Permanente has 127,000 employees, 11,000 physicians, and serves 8.4 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia.

Click here to learn more about HCPro and its various education programs for regulatory and compliance issues faced by hospitals, home health organizations, nursing homes, physicians' offices, and other health care facilities.