1996's HIPAA act serves to keep personal health information secure and confidential besides helping people keep their health insurance. The privacy section of the law protects the transmission of individual health information through and or all mediums. The law is part and parcel of the daily operations of all medical professionals and healthcare organizations. 2009's HITECH Act amended HIPAA to accommodate advances in medical technology like electronic forms for health records.
HIPAA protects Protected Health Information or PHI and includes its scope and information that might identify a person's mental and physical health issues. These are irrespective of their point in time in the patient's life. The act protects the following types of medical information, amongst others:
- Social security details
It is only natural the people would want to keep such information private. It should be shared only with appropriate entities like insurance providers and providers of other types of care. As per HIPAA, all such information, whether they are in the form of voicemails, files, and faxes, needs to be treated by the act's safety and confidentiality provisions. Electronic Protected Health Information, abbreviated as EPHI, includes in its scope all these items and adds their electronic forms and the saving, transmission, or reception of this information in the electron form. As per HIPAA, healthcare organizations can only release a person's health information only with their consent or required as per the mandates of law. The following benefits make HIPAA certification a must for healthcare professionals:
Violations Might Appear To Be Harmless
Just not granting access to patients' health information to unauthorized third parties is not enough. As OSHA tests like the one's talking about on this website reveal, there's a lot more to it. Harmless behaviors like the following could also be a violation of the provisions of the act:
- Leaving personally identifiable patient information accessible to others, even if it is for a short time
- Keeping digital records of such information for your reference to work on them at your convenience
- Discussing private information of patients with colleagues at public places
- Not following the standard procedure of shutting down computers with patient information
Fostering A HIPAA Friendly Culture
Another significant advantage that HIPAA training confers upon healthcare professionals is creating a workplace culture where professionals proactively report violations without the fear of persecution. HIPAA makes healthcare organizations necessary to adopt an open-door policy that allows professionals to report violations anonymously. One may cite several instances where whistleblowers have financially benefited by reporting breaches in the form of a percentage of the company's penalties. By fostering anonymous reporting company culture, you can prevent such undesirable practices.
Increases Awareness Of High Vulnerability Of Patient's Personal Information
Besides the risks to patient health information encountered daily, digital records are vulnerable to additional risks. Healthcare organizations must have a rigorous and robust cyber-security system in place. They must spell out data breach protocols and take all necessary actions to prevent them. Suppose a healthcare organization fails to protect its information adequately. In that case, it makes it easy for hackers to access patient information and the contact details of the physician. Another possibility that a security system helps to prevent is selling critical health information by employees.
It Serves To Make Personnel Human Firewalls
Just think how many times one or other healthcare professional interacts with a particular patient's PHI or protected health information. And with each such interaction comes the possibility of exposing the same information. The training healthcare professionals get to acquire HIPAA certification ensures that they are thoroughly conversant with PHI's best practices. It serves as a sort of human firewall against possible PHI data breaches.
Ensures Awareness Of The Threats Posed To Patients By Breaches
You will be surprised at exactly how naïve many healthcare professionals are regarding the risks posed by unwanted elements getting hold of PHI data. Such awareness helps healthcare professionals to be more careful when dealing with patient's records. Moreover, professionals get specific instructions that help them maximize the security of PHI.
Families And Employees Get Better Satisfaction
As security breaches in healthcare companies continue to hog the limelight, people pay more attention to safety and security. The numbers reveal that about one-third of all HIPAA audits carried out by the OCR every year result from complaints lodged by patients or other members of the patient's family. These days, patients and their families are more keenly aware of how important their health information is. They notice the lack of security of the same. They appreciate it when a healthcare organization treats them with the care they justly deserve.
Don't make the mistake of thinking that HIPAA certification will turn healthcare employees into cybersecurity experts. But such training helps to boost awareness and ensure that security best practices and protocols are followed. Organizations that back such activity with robust cybersecurity measures are unlikely to stray off the HIPAA acts' wrong line. It helps to know!