What are patient privacy laws - protect your patients personal information

Jamie Frew
Jamie Frew
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Introduction

Patient privacy laws are one of the most important aspects of healthcare businesses, as they ensure that there is transparency in regards to data management and that all your patient information is kept private. Following the patient privacy act, you can ensure that you adhere to legal requirements within practice management software as well as in practice management progress reports. You can provide confidentiality to the highest degree, and significantly reduce the risk of external parties leaking or hacking your information, which can often be the difference between your success and failure. Nevertheless, with the ever-changing landscape concerning privacy regulations, we acknowledge that it can be difficult to maintain compliance, which is why we’re here to help! 

Overview on health data

Health data encompasses a variety of regulations, laws, and standards, and it’s important that you wrap your head around its definition. Referring to the creation and storage of health-related data, health data makes up for almost all patient privacy laws, as well as HIPAA medical record release regulations. Any information regarding client information and their health is collected by health businesses, kept within their systems, and is used to inform treatment plans and direct practitioners on future courses of action. Because health data contains highly sensitive information, it is of utmost importance that you prioritize and implement privacy measures within each step of your operations. There are also highly regulated processes in place to ensure you’re held accountable for protecting client information, and adhering to these is the best way to avoid extensive legal repercussions. Especially if you have increased Patient Average Visit (PVA) numbers, then health data is something you should absolutely be aware of. 

Importance of patient privacy laws in healthcare

If it isn't clear by now, we'll spend some time discussing the significance of patient privacy legislation in healthcare and why you should be concerned. For example, as technology advances, data breaches and cyber-attacks have become much more common, and patient information is now more exposed than ever. It is critical that you implement legislation and the Data Privacy Act that protect medical records and dramatically reduce the danger of breaches and data leakages if you want to be a socially responsible and secure healthcare firm. Failure to meet such HIPAA compliance rules could result in significant financial ramifications, not to mention massive blows to your practice's reputation. These can be quite difficult to overcome, especially if criminal charges are involved, and so you must ensure that you are fully educated on current regulations and that you have the necessary security measures in place. Patients are also considerably more likely to choose your services if they know you go to great measures to implement strong security, which can help increase client satisfaction and consequently revenue for your business. It allows for more efficient physical environment policies, and having high security allows you to set a higher standard and price for your services.

U.S. Federal privacy protections for health-relevant personal data

There are various U.S. federal privacy protections in place for health-relevant data that ensure that patient information is held private, with confidentiality maintained across all aspects of data creation and storage. With the increase in digitalization, there is also a large amount of concern over privacy, and ensuring that electronic information is kept safe and free from leakage to external parties. In fact, these concerns were so overwhelming that they almost blocked healthcare companies’ ability to share healthcare information! However, regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009 (HITECH) work cohesively to secure and regulate data transfers and management in healthcare. You can ensure that all your information is protected, with only authorized users having the ability to collect and hold certain types of data. This works to prevent leakages and ensures that all healthcare businesses uphold similar, consistent, and constant regulations and standards when it comes to technology affecting patient data. 

Patient privacy laws under HIPAA

HIPAA is everywhere in healthcare, and it’s important that you take the time to understand it in detail, so you can correctly apply it to the operations of your healthcare business. As mentioned, HIPAA is a federal privacy protection law that guides the release of medical records, as well as the general ins and outs of the healthcare privacy act. It ensures that all patient medical information, and other identifiable data, is protected and at minimal risk from hacks and leakages. Essentially, HIPAA works across all healthcare plans, clearinghouses, and providers, who work electronically with their data. HIPAA necessitates suitable protections that govern privacy, as well as establishing the conditions surrounding what information can be accessed, transferred, and stored without specific authorization. Individuals also have rights to their protected health information under HIPAA rules, including the ability to obtain and inspect a copy of their health records, as well as to request corrections and transmission of their health records to a third party if needed. It ensures that the patient has some level of control and autonomy over their data, and also provides peace of mind when it comes to their information.

Patient choice and how can this be implemented in Electronic Health Information Exchange (eHIE)?

eHIE refers to the method through which healthcare organizations and providers can share and access health information, and it is frequently carried out through a third-party health information exchange organization. eHIEs have the ability to request provider-client information pertaining to individual patients and are developed with the purpose of safe and secure exchange of health records. Due to the opportunity to dramatically lower expenses by going paperless, eHIEs have swiftly become widespread in the electronic landscape as technology has advanced. However, when it comes to electronic transmission, eHIEs must consider the issue of 'consent decisions' for patients. After all, patients must retain control over their medical information, thus they must be kept informed at all phases of sharing and accessing HIE information. Patients must make calls on what details they would like shared, and eHIEs must be able to provide and satisfy consumer needs. This includes touching on areas concerning technology, law, and policy, as well as patient education and engagement. Incorporating these elements enables meaningful consent, which can lead to holistic decisions and protected information.

Final thoughts

Patient privacy is key when it comes to the success of your healthcare business, as you need to ensure that all data operations are managed efficiently, securely, and at minimal risk from data leakages and cyber-attacks. Despite its advances, technology can most certainly be vulnerable, so it’s important that you maintain confidentiality through high-quality security measures, and that you abide by federal laws and regulations to avoid massive financial and legal repercussions. Failing to do so can damage your reputation, and stunt the growth of your business, which only decreases customer satisfaction

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