Many health vendors are joining the HITECH bandwagon and are offering their own products and services. All these, products and services, are aimed at protecting against any breaches covered under HIPAA. There has been enough communication within the industry to show that it does not properly distinguish between the two kinds of breaches, i.e., privacy breaches and security breaches.
A privacy breach is said to have been perpetuated, when a properly authenticated and authorized user looks into a patient’s record without any particular need or requirement to do so. For example, a doctor looking at a record of a patient to review information, if he is not treating that person at the moment, is termed as privacy breach.
This privacy breach has to be disclosed under the HITECH regulations. The same doctor, however, cannot be booked for privacy breach when he pulls up the records a week later, as he is treating that patient at that particular time.
A security breach occurs when there is a successful hacking carried out into a system, disks or unencrypted laptops and computers containing identifiable patient details. This also implies a privacy breach, as it is an unauthorized access to private data. But strangely enough, a privacy breach cannot be termed as a security breach.
Many experts conclude that protection against security breaches is a prevention of privacy breaches. Prevention of security breaches can be easily accomplished through a two-factor authentication at the data workstation, locking terminals to prevent improper and unauthorized usage of data; other authentication approaches for clinical users should also be included. The latter is an important way to prevent privacy breaches, but is the more difficult of the two to achieve.
The introduction of HITECH regulations has extended the bite of the HIPAA framework. Healthcare organizations are now required, under law, to disclose a patients privacy breach to the patient who has been effected. In certain cases, a notification of the same has to be made to the secretary of Health and Human Services. This much talked about HIPAA and HITECH compliance and the application and desktop virtualization can therefore be an effective means of protecting against security breaches.