Patient Privacy: The Discussion Continues for Uniformity
The discussion regarding healthcare and patient privacy has been ever evolving. Patients and healthcare providers have attempted to come together in many ways in order to help one another achieve uniform procedures regarding privacy practices. As technology has advanced, so has the challenges of keeping information safe for patients.
This success in digitizing the health care system is vital to creating a connected, interoperable learning health system that results in better care, smarter spending and healthier people in all corners of the country,” Thomas Mason, the chief medical officer for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC)
Many professionals in the field – as well as patients – have had past frustration over the patient privacy subject and really understanding who should or should not have access to patient personal information. Support agencies began to address the need for understanding communication 20 years ago with the creation of HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). Originally established to address how patients can protect their information, it has expanded throughout the past ten years to include the technological advances in communication.
REC and How It Contributed to Overall Success
In April, The American Institute for Research released the final report for the ONC regarding HIPAA and technological advances. The five years of research findings were informative and hopeful.
Six years ago, the ONC started their quest with the creation of the Regional Extension Center (REC) program. They created this program to help expand HIPAA and its goals to everyone – focusing on organizations who may have had challenges in revamping their technology to reflect HIPAA’s goals. These included – but were not limited to – smaller practices, rural clinics and places where patients may not have insurance. They did not expect the agencies to simply give compliance without aid. The REC offered “… technical assistance to providers in areas such as EHR implementation and project management, training, vendor selection and financial consultation, workflow redesign and privacy and security.” They wanted the program to be successful and offer the chance for uniformity that many have been striving to achieve. The research shows, that through the formation of the Regional Extension Center, the ONC was able to accomplish many of their goals.
If the subject of patient privacy is of interest to you, you may want to consider pursing a degree in the healthcare administration field.