How to Maintain Privacy and Integrity Through HIPAA Compliance
It’s safe to say that many people are very familiar with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) today. However, very few know how to comply with it properly. This article is intended to address the most frequently asked questions about HIPAA and give you the information you need to know to be fully compliant.
HIPAA was enacted in 1996 to address several problems associated with obtaining, maintaining, and using health insurance. To get a better understanding of this act, it is best to first understand what HIPAA actually protects you from.
Medical records are an integral part of the health care industry. From a practical standpoint, these records are used by doctors, hospitals, and other medical professionals to provide treatment. They also provide information on what doctors do, who their patients are, and any other relevant information.
Most people know that it is illegal to sell or distribute medical records without the express written consent of the patient. Additionally, it is against the law to produce, obtain, or use a record without having first obtained the patient’s consent. These laws, in general, are called privacy and confidentiality laws.
HIPAA tries to strike a balance between protecting confidentiality and ensuring that data security is maintained. Specifically, HIPAA sets out three main purposes. These are to protect individual health privacy and provide protection for medical records.
First, HIPAA makes it illegal to use your records for financial gain. This is done through regulations that require employers and agencies that provide benefits for health care workers to adhere to privacy policies and maintain records as strictly as possible. For example, they cannot make use of information gathered from you, such as how much your family earns, for something unrelated to providing benefits.
Secondly, it is illegal to release information that is not designated as PHI to individuals without your consent for certain types of reasons. Examples of reasons include releasing PHI to an insurance company in order to qualify for benefits, using PHI to find out where a patient works or providing non-disclosure to your child’s physician without your permission.
Finally, it is also illegal to release protected health information that you are not allowed to receive in certain types of circumstances. Examples of situations that may violate these rules include performing searches on PHI in order to apply for employment, contacting someone without their permission, or giving away PHI in order to get a credit.
HIPAA is a complex piece of legislation that has a number of complicated rules and regulations. In order to comply with the various rules, one must consult with their health care provider to ensure that the rules are being followed.
One thing to keep in mind is that HIPAA does not cover information that is located offsite within a health care facility. Therefore, if you have a computer in your home or small office that contains information that could fall under HIPAA rules, you will need to consult with your provider to ensure that it is kept private.
By the way, there are seven different sections of HIPAA that one should be aware of. One should always read the complete regulations in order to be fully informed about the exact rules and regulations being enforced by the federal government.
HIPAA is also not applicable to personal health information for non-commercial purposes. In other words, it is legal to share health information that relates to commercial matters as long as it is for non-commercial purposes.