The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is a federal law that mandates the creation of national standards to protect delicate and private patient medical history and health information from being disclosed to other parties without their knowledge.
HIPAA focuses on patient privacy, record keeping, and employees in the medical field. It is a landmark piece of information for every player in the healthcare industry and had a lot to offer everyone in the healthcare industry and patients.
Why Is HIPAA Important?
HIPAA is the law, and the penalties for breaking this law can be severe. Violations of this law can lead to fines of up to $25,000 per every record compromised. All players in the healthcare industry, including business associates, are required to abide by this law.
The law helps prevent fraud in the healthcare industry and ensures that every piece of health information is secured, and restricts access to health-related data to unauthorized individuals. Introduced in 1996 and enacted in 1997, HIPAA’s first most important order was to make sure employees continued to receive health insurance coverage when they are between jobs.
The HIPAA law later moved on to handle standardized medical record-keeping and patient privacy.
Why is HIPAA Important In the Healthcare Field?
The law introduced a transition from paper records to electronic records of health information. Before HIPAA, it was not unusual to see patient’s health records, x-rays, or photographs lying around an office for everyone to see.
Courier services could deliver paper records between hospitals or offices, and one mishap could reveal embarrassing photographs or patient information that should have been kept private. The transition to electronic records makes patient records more secure, confidential and minimizes the risk of losing vital information.
When it comes to patient’s privacy, some of the questions that one can ask are, should a billing clerk be able to pull up a patient’s height, weight, and family medical history? Does an imaging technician need to view blood test results? The answer is no.
Though they are in the healthcare industry, HIPAA’s Privacy Rule standardizes who can view a patient’s medical records and how to protect them. This move was first strongly resisted, but the change was necessary. The casual attitude towards highly sensitive medical information had to be halted, and that why HIPAA was enacted.
HIPAA also improves efficiency in the healthcare industry streamlines administrative healthcare functions. The electronic transactions ensure that all entities under HIPAA use the same code sets and have nationally recognized identifiers to help with the transfer of health data between health plans, healthcare providers, and any other entity.
By demanding the use of electronic medical records, HIPAA’s introduction to the Privacy Rule pushed the industry into the world of IT because it established steady security protocols and lay the base for standardized data collection processes. Other industries that handle personal information have also adopted such standards.
Why is HIPAA Important for Patients?
Patients are some of the greatest beneficiaries of the HIPAA rule. This law ensures that all HIPAA- covered entities, including healthcare providers, healthcare clearinghouses, health plans, and business associates, implement various safeguards to protect delicate health and personal information.
It has given unprecedented rights to patients. Patients can correct, review, request, and restrict access to their medical information. HIPAA dictates the requirements for medical providers to keep patient’s records safe and restrict who could view them.
HIPAA is important for any patient who wants to take a more active role in their healthcare and wants to get copies of the medical history or healthcare information. This can help them seek treatment from other healthcare providers easily because they will not have to undergo new tests since the new healthcare provider will have all the information they need about the patient.
Before the HIPAA Privacy Rule, no healthcare organization was required to give patients copies of their healthcare information. In 1996 very few people could easily foresee a time when patients could share their experiences and opinions with medical and healthcare providers.
Though HIPAA did not cause this to happen, it prepared the industry for review sites such as Yelp and dedicated rating services like Vitals and Healthgrades.
Why Is Compliance Important in Healthcare?
Compliance is crucial in any industry. Being that healthcare touches nearly every person, HIPAA compliance programs significantly improve interactions and patient care. It also helps players in the healthcare industry maintain a reasonable positive reputation among patients and peers.
No doctor, nurse, lab technician, or any other entity in the medical field wants to make headlines by accidentally exposing or losing a patient’s private medical information. Staying compliant helps to avoid such incidences.
Compliance also ensures that all HIPAA-covered entities follow the law and avoid severe penalties. HIPAA has saved the industry from handling some serious problems because the entities can also guard against potential medical malpractice lawsuits or issues.