The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects the security, privacy, and integrity of health records. The HIPAA regulations safeguard confidential health information by dictating legal use and disclosure of such data. The second HIPAA objective involves ensuring that individuals between jobs receive adequate insurance coverage. HIPAA is beneficial both to patients and healthcare organizations.
Importance for Patients
HIPAA regulations promote patient confidentiality and privacy
The Act mandates healthcare providers to secure protected personal information and health records. It prevents the disclosure or sharing of sensitive patient data. Healthcare organizations must control and restrict who can access, share, or view health information.
The regulations provide patients with access to their healthcare records.
Permitting patients to access personal health data enables them to play a direct role in their care. For example, a patient can identify errors that healthcare professionals could have made. Although healthcare organizations are meticulous, errors are prone to arise, and allowing patients to obtain health information copies helps identify and correct possible mistakes.
HIPAA reduces fraud
HIPAA regulations initiated data system improvements in the healthcare industry, preventing and reducing fraudulent activities.
Importance for Healthcare providers/organizations
HIPAA helped healthcare providers:
- Transition from paper records to electronic data system – The traditional paper records are time-consuming and challenging to arrange. Transitioning to electronic copies improved efficiency, productivity, and performance.
- Save millions of dollars. Failure to protect patient records exposes organizations to lawsuits: lawsuits and reputational damage associated with a breach of privacy and confidentiality result in millions of dollars paid in damages.
- Improve efficiency in the industry
- Share protected health information in a secure manner
- Streamline healthcare functions, including administrative functions
Discuss why following the law is necessary and any challenge(s) health care professionals face in upholding the laws.
Following the law is necessary to prevent paying settlements and damaging reputation. HIPAA violations attract significant fines, and organizations that do not follow the law risk paying hefty payments and going bankrupt. Breaching HIPAA regulations damages an organization’s reputation, ending the trust patients had in such an entity. Trust is paramount between healthcare providers and patients, and a HIPAA violation could ultimately destroy an ongoing success. Clients are more likely to abandon a facility that does not follow the law, causing it to lose business.
The primary challenge health care professionals face in upholding the laws involves a lack of training and naivety. Hackers are devising new ways to access organizational databases, and an unsuspecting employee can innocently breach HIPAA guidelines. Clinicians face a challenge acquiring new technology skills and evaluating possible loopholes or target areas. They also face a challenge keeping themselves updated on all HIPAA rules and guidelines.
Provide an example of a hospital, facility, or organization that violated HIPAA and the consequences they faced
One example of a facility that violated HIPAA is the Catholic Health Care Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. https://www.securevideo.com/2017/01/20/the-cost-of-violating-hipaa-regulations/.
According to the investigation, the facility violated HIPAA rules by failing to:
- Train employees on security measures
- Conduct risk analysis
- Encrypt electronically protected health information
- Implement a contingency plan
The consequence the organization faced was a $650,000 fine (Chen, 2017).
Chen, L. (2017). 10 Companies that lost millions for these avoidable HIPAA violations. Secure Video. Retrieved from http://www.securevideo.com/2017/01/20/the-cost-of-violating-hipaa-regulations/.
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