Today, the general public has heard of HIPAA and understand the legislation that pertains to healthcare organizations. However, most don’t understand the importance of HIPAA for the patients. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was signed into law in 1996. It was a law that applied to healthcare providers, health plans, and healthcare clearinghouses that performed electronic transactions. Since 1996 through 2009 there have been significant updates to the HIPAA policy. Now HIPAA has expanded to cover patients privacy, uses and disclosures of patient health data, and data security.
The privacy of health data is a central focus when discussing HIPAA. Its purpose is to restrict individuals from being able to view healthcare data without obtaining a patients consent. In general, access to patient’s health care data is restricted to the healthcare employees who need to review health and personal information. This will help the employee provide healthcare services and perform any administrative duties. In addition, the privacy rule grants patients to designate an individual to obtain health data on behalf of the patient’s friends, family, or caregiver.
In reference to the security of health data, HIPAA requires healthcare organizations to safeguard any health data created, stored, maintained, or transmitted to be kept secure at all times.
The notification of data breaches is setup with healthcare organizations to prevent access to a patients data. HIPAA and the healthcare organizations are required by law to issue notifications to patients when it’s deemed their records were compromised. This gives the breach victim an opportunity to protect their identity and reduce the possibility of becoming a victim of fraud.
The copies of medical records may be obtained by the patients, according to HIPAA. This gives the patient an opportunity to be more proactive in their health. Plus, they’re in control when they want to share their information with another healthcare organization.
Finally, it needs to be noted that all healthcare organizations are not covered by HIPAA rules. HIPAA doesn’t cover health app developers unless they’re contracted to develop apps or provide apps to patients that are a HIPAA covered entity. Also, HIPAA doesn’t apply to life insurance companies, employers, schools, law enforcement agencies, the media, many state agencies and many of the municipal offices.
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