The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was enacted in 1996 and m, since then, has been seen as important legislation for everyone, organizations and patients.
This is due to the fact that HIPAA helps to deal possible healthcare fraud, simplified healthcare operations and allowed for rules that healthcare organizations are legally obliged to follow to ensure that protected health information (PHI) is properly secured and access to that information was only allowed for authorized people.
This is so despite the HIPAA being initially formulated to address the issue of workers keeping their health insurance when they were moving from a role in one company to a role in another.
The introduction of HIPAA has played a massive role in encouraging healthcare organizations to move from paper records to digital copies of health data. The regulation helped streamline administrative healthcare functions and has helped to make sure that PHI is shared securely. Setting up standards for documenting health information and electronic transactions has resulted in patients’ private details always being managed in the same way, regardless of which healthcare outfit they move to. HIPAA-covered entities need to use similar sets of codes and implement nationally accepted identifiers, and this has meant that healthcare outfits share ePHI with other healthcare outfits, health plans, and other covered groups.
In relation to patients, HIPAA is important as it requires healthcare providers, health plans, business associates and healthcare clearinghouses to establish security measures to ensure sensitive health information is always private and confidential.
Even though healthcare outfits would most likely apply measures to keep sensitive health data private and make it more difficult for health data to be stolen, without HIPAA, healthcare outfits would not be obligated to do so and they would not be accountable for privacy violations and security errors.
HIPAA implemented rules that obligate healthcare outfits to limit the persons who can view to health information. For instance, a nurse or other healthcare worker cannot view the records of a patient if there is not a legitimate work reason for accessing those records.
HIPAA also means that patients are in charge of the types of people their health data is shared with. Due to this, HIPAA is important for patients who would like to be more active in their healthcare and obtain and look over their medical records. Healthcare providers may make a number of mistakes when collating health data. If patients could not obtain copies of their medical records, they could not check for mistakes and ensure those mistakes are changed.
Obtaining health data copies means that patients are in a better position should they change healthcare providers. It helps them to move those medical records to the new providers, which helps to ensure they get the best possible treatment and means that medical tests do not have to be conducted again. Before the HIPAA Privacy Rule, healthcare organizations were not legally mandated to provide patients with copies of their medical records.