Keeping data secure has become a prominent theme in recent years as cyber attacks and security hacks have become pillars of online activity.
Data security increased in several sectors that were the most sensitive to privacy; one of those sectors being medicine.
It’s easy to understand how and why medical data is so important to keep secure. Patient health can be personal and for many, it can reveal parts of their personal lives they’d rather not have future employers, investors or other third parties know about.
Keeping medical data secure is no longer as simple locking a file cabinet. Thanks to the digitization of the healthcare system, client information is shared easily amongst the physicians and medical personnel who look after a patient’s health. Digital health records are improving patient care, but they’re also raising awareness on the ways in which all involved personnel can keep this information private to a select few.
To help ensure that medical histories can stay private and secure, President Bill Clinton signed the HIPAA into law in 1996. Today, HIPAA is more important than ever.
What is HIPAA?
HIPAA refers to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 that the United States legislation passed to provide privacy and security for data involved in medical information.
Purpose of HIPAA:
- Continuous health insurance coverage
HIPAA works to maintain continuous health insurance coverage for workers who lose or change their job.
- Reduce administrative burdens and cost of healthcare
HIPAA reduces administrative burdens and costs of healthcare by creating a standardized system of administrative and financial transactions.
- Minimize abuse, fraud, and waste
HIPAA compliance helps to combat abuse, fraud, and waste in health insurance and in healthcare. By combatting these tendencies, HIPAA improves the overall function of healthcare and provides patients a better standard of care.
Does everyone comply with HIPAA?
Health plans, healthcare providers, and healthcare clearinghouses are covered by HIPAA. Business associates who work with covered entities must comply with HIPAA regulations.
What exactly is protected?
Under HIPAA, the following patient information is protected:
- name, address, birth date, and social security number
- care provided
- physical and mental health conditions
- payment information
Some information not protected includes details about a patient’s employment history and education.
Requirements of HIPAA
When a practice complies with HIPAA requirements, the following responsibilities are assumed:
- A complaint process for policies and procedures is created, clearly identified and made available to patients
- Administrative, technical and physical personnel are employees to protect patient records which are covered by HIPAA
- All employees and volunteers are sufficiently trained on HIPAA procedures and policies
- A privacy official develops and implements the policies and procedures to ensure adequate information protection
- An official is elected to oversee the process and consequences of a security violation
Penalties of HIPAA
Failure to comply with HIPAA standards can come with a slew of consequences, which helps ensure that patient rights to data privacy are protected. Penalties for neglecting to give patients access to their personal health information results in fines ranging from $100 per violation to $250,000 per violation, depending on the nature and scale of the offense.
What does it mean to be a business associate of HIPAA?
HIPAA business associates include anyone who works in association with the secured information or with patients whose information is being secured.
Ensuring the privacy and security of patient medical health records is of critical importance to your practice. To learn more about secure medical transcription and the services we provide, reach out to the incredible team at Mercedes Transcription.