Think about the word HIPAA and what comes to mind when you hear it. HIPAA (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) has become a part of everyday language, however many people have forgotten how vital it is to understanding and meeting the needs of all patients.
HIPAA’s origins began in protection and security; it is truly a part of the relationship building process healthcare workers need to have with their patients. According to the Wall Street Journal, as recent as 2014, 2.3 million patients were affected by medical identity theft. For healthcare personnel, HIPAA can represent one more box to check off during routine visits, but for patients it may be the difference between feeling that they may be exposed publically or feeling secure with their decision on who addresses their medical health needs. With the new additions to HIPAA, there is an obligation to address new concerns and keep up to date on requirements to protect patients and the healthcare worker.
How Technology has Changed the Act
Technology plays a huge role in HIPAA. While the act itself remains worded the same, there have been additional developments that have been added to what healthcare workers need to consider when implementing HIPAA protections. For example, HIPAA protects a patient’s electronical medical information. The primary change in this area is the addition of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act or the HITECH Act. Developed specifically to address technological challenges with information, the HIGHTECH has expanded what HIPAA seeks to accomplish. It has stricter ramifications for violators, a federal notification requirement and it enforces that HIPAA now apply to the business associates of healthcare providers (for example, third party collectors).
Whys and Hows – Staying Current for a Reason
If you are in the healthcare industry, you already know how vital HIPAA and HITECH are to your success as a provider and employee. It can make the difference in why a patient chooses your practice or facility as well as protect your endeavors. Staying on top of industry standards is essential to protecting and caring for patients. With the development of HITECH, there should be new ways of training individuals and utilizing in house technology to relay information. Education, research, and further training will help turn HIPAA from a standard box to check off to a living part of your care network.
If you are interested in learning more about how HIPAA impacts the healthcare administration field, you may want to pursue a degree in this area.