Posts Tagged ‘HIPAA’
Late Farrah Fawcett, a well known television and film actress, was in the news few years ago, when it was discovered that data pertaining to her health issues was leaked to the newspapers. It can be said that a celebrity is always at the center of attention and is susceptible to the act of compromising confidential information broke a federal law. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was enacted in 1996 to avoid unauthorized access to confidential data, and this is what all business related to the medical field must comply with.
Who recognizes HIPAA?
If you are employed by an organization that gathers health data from individuals, you are termed as a ‘covered entity’, and you are expected to adhere to this law. Covered entities encompass the following:
- Healthcare centers and clinics.
- Insurance players in the health and medical space.
- Private practitioners – includes general and specialized practice doctors and others.
- Psychiatrists and Psychologists
- Medical billing outlets and collection companies.
Whether you employ a few or many people, safeguarding patient data is of paramount importance.
Records secured by HIPAA
Patients going to a healthcare center or a clinic must be guaranteed of discretion. It is necessary that confidential records are not compromised and cannot be accessed by people who do not have the required authority. Medical data secured by these federal laws encompass, but are not restricted to:
- Prescription data.
- Medical history logs.
- Appointment records.
- Phone and voicemail data.
- Insurance documents.
- Billing records.
Complying with HIPAA requirements
Old and obsolete patient records must be destroyed to ensure the patient’s privacy. A company adhering to HIPAA rules must be ready to exterminate documents in accordance with policies. Any and all documents have to be shredded thoroughly as just dumping papers cannot assure security – any person with a malicious intent could go through the garbage and obtain important personal information. Retaining the services of a professional is a sure way to ensure your safety also.
Adhering to the HIPAA pertinent to your business will provide you with the peace of mind needed to run without any hitches.
Making computer networks safe is the core part of the HIPAA plan to totally transform the national patent health data into an electronic image, which can be then effortlessly shared by health care providers, insurance providers and administrators. Because of this, the health care agencies can handle the record keeping process more proficiently and quickly and render efficient service to the patients. As the current computer system is vulnerable to hacking and virus attacks, the vital records are thus at a risk of getting stolen or being wiped out. To safeguard the patient health data, there are network security regulations, which should be adhered, to enable the establishment to attain HIPAA Compliance.
The 2 important parts of HIPAA that pertains to computer network security are:
- Administrative Safeguards:
To attain HIPAA compliance the provider must recognize, protect and intimate any malevolent software program in the system. The compromised emails are carriers of worms, virus and Trojans, and there has to be a safeguard measure to stop the unwanted breach. For managing the computer systems network efficiently, it is important to keep a watch by installing specialized security measures as noted below:
Gateway and virus blocking mechanism should be in place.
The safeguard system should be able to carry out, deep packet penetration, inspect and provision for relevant web filtering mechanisms to the network. Signature systems that refresh at every half hour should be used as they are the premier defense shields against rapidly moving worms.
For a computer network to be HIPAA compliant, it is essential for the organization to draft a security system, which gives authority to the key people or software systems to access the confidential health information.
Appropriate encryption mechanisms should be in place to code the confidential health information when in transit to stop unauthorized access or intercept. The sending of information must be encrypted in a high security encryption and must be received by authorized users who must use the decryption code to decrypt the message.
Ultimately, it is necessary for all parties concerned in the healthcare system, like health service providers, insurance providers, transcription service providers, labs, internet service providers, hospitals and billing services to cement a relation of trust to ensure confidentiality of patient information shared between them. This can be achieved through a linkage of computers that stick to HIPAA rules and regulations to achieve a safe and protected transmission, of private health information on a public platform.
In today’s modern, busy and high tech world, most of the personal business of people is conducted online. This includes accessing information regarding private health records etc. Healthcare providers have no choice but to grant access to this private health information or face losing their customers.
HIPAA also commonly known as The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, requires employment of stringent measures by the health care providers, to assure the patient that his/her personal health records are protected from the unauthorized access over the internet.
HIPAA when enacted required health-providing entities to assure the confidentiality of patient information in the following ways:
- Responsibility for security was to be assigned to a person or organization.
- Assessment of risks to find out any security or privacy threats to medical information.
- Establishment of a program to address physical, personnel and technical security controls.
- Certification of effectiveness of the employed security controls.
- Creating procedures, guidelines and policies to use computing devices, and ensuring that the suitable mechanisms are there to allow or ban access to an individual’s status.
- Implementation of controls on access which include user-based access, encryption, role-based access, context-based access and auditing control mechanisms, authentication of data, and authentication of entity.
Security is the key
HIPAA provides for both civil and criminal action against the violations and violators, as data access and security is top priority for a healthcare firm. To assure HIPAA compliance, security features that should be included in online documents are:
- Secure web server – A server should be running secure socket layers. It is the bare minimum required.
- Encrypted database – All data has to be encrypted. Modern Encryption Software is available that encrypts all the data sent between two computer and any device on the internet.
- Session timeout – This assures that private data is not left unattended and is only viewed by unauthorized personnel.
- Server monitoring – monitoring of the web server is required to detect break-in attempts and hacking attempts.
- Secure access control – Apart from user id and password, for additional security, strong passwords and smart cards should be used.
- Regular security audits – all security precautions need to be checked for their state of readines and proper working. For this regular audits should be carried out.
- Personnel – Qualified personnel familiar with HIPPA requirements should be employees for system maintenance.
In the coming years, millions and millions of patients’ data will be compiled into Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems. For this, the federal government has created a level of confidentiality for Protected Healthcare Information (PHI) and is imposing fines for breaches of HIPAA. HITECH or Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009 allocated about $19 billion dollars to assist physicians and health care centers to accept this transition. $17 billion would be allocated to healthcare centers and physicians who utilize this system.
However, transfer of personal and private data from paper documents that utilizes direct faxes to an electronic process that relies on unsecure email will naturally raise security concerns. Data in transportation via non-secure channels can be breached with relative ease and could be used with a malicious intent. Patients are predictably worried that best practices might not be observed to safeguard their confidential data.
To be abreast of these updates in Health Information Technology (HIT), health centers and physicians are required to find and utilize safe and secure computers and email programs that are compliant with both HITECH and HIPAA standards. Just as different treatments are available for different ailments, a wide range of options exists regarding security and email applications. It can be confusing for health centers and doctors to go through such vast options and find the one that is suited to their needs and budgets.
Some organizations have implemented an economical system that can be scaled to suit your requirements. Whether it is a tiny clinic or a large healthcare center, systems can be tailored to meet the demands of their patients. There are some applications which obliterate the need for on-site IT resources or maintenance and work on most known web browser or merge with outlook email accounts too.
HITECH medical data software is anticipated to be completely implemented by 2014. With this, the US will move a step closer to the world standard of health care data storage. It will be on the same level as other first-world countries who have their data securely stored a conveniently used.
If you are a covered entity under HIPAA, then you must also make sure that your email system has the required safeguards and encryptions to ensure safe transfer of medical data.
HIPAA was enacted in 1996 and its sole objective was to protect patients’ personal information. This law is something that we all have to use at some point of our life. Whether we meet and accident or have a new baby, we provide a lot of personal medical information to our doctors regarding the present and past health history of ourselves and our family members. HIPAA protects this information from falling into wrong hands.
Hipaa law was created while keeping the interest of common consumers in mind. During any kind of treatment, the medical records of a patient pass through many hands. All the nurses, hospital staff, doctors, insurance company officials etc. have access to these records. If not protected, any of these people can leak, steal or misuse our personal details for his private gain or that of the institution he works for. But thankfully, patients can now hold all of these entities responsible, if any of their information is misused.
HIPAA protects our basic health information, address, social security number, records of pre-existing medical conditions, treatments done in the past, pre-existing mental stress, birth date etc. All the information used by doctors is also protected, but they can access your updated medical information without prior permission, in order to provide the best treatment or collect payment from your health insurance.
Under HIPAA, the authorization process is supposed to be written in the most simple and understandable terms, instead of technical jargon. According to the policy makers, the technical terms make it difficult for people to really understand their own records and it is important to make sure that everyone understands their own records.
According to this act, you can also get backup healthcare package, if you want to extend or avail a good healthcare package. Title 1 of HIPAA law abolishes any order or rules which diminish legal right of a consumer to get proper benefits of health insurance. In other words, if you possess a health insurance and you do not have any pending dues or premiums, but still, your health insurance company refuses to provide you medical benefits, then HIPAA will cancel any such orders and protect your right to get insurance coverage.
This law is one of the best assistance that an American healthcare consumer has ever got. The laws of HIPAA are truly for the people.
HIPAA or Health Insurance Portability and Accountability act was introduced to stop the injustices incurred by medical and health insurance institutions regarding patients’ health records. Before the inception of this Act, the entire medical system in United States of America was unregulated and ill-managed. Thankfully, HIPAA has been able to create many positive changes into this.
But there are still many instances of violations in HIPAA and as a patient, you must know what are your rights regarding an apparent violation in this act. But before we come to the violations, you must know the actions which are permitted under this act. HIPPA gives you the right to find out everything about your healthcare and also choose your own doctor. It also improves your accessibility towards group healthcare plans.
Patients are entitled to see and have a copy of their medical records. None of their medical information can be shared without prior notice to them. This act has also empowered people to switch jobs without losing health care. As a result, it became necessary to find a solution that would reduce the cost of administration without compromising with HIPAA and the solution was to computerize the entire medical record system in insurance companies and hospitals.
It must be mentioned that many insurance companies were not in favor of this act, since it caused a lot of financial strain on them. The high level of administrative work required to comply with this act was a major concern for most providers who were not in agreement with HIPPA voiced their displeasure at the privacy requirements; noting that they would put financial strain on providers while they put measures in place to comply. The law originally caused tens of thousands of privacy rule violation complaints.
The electronic system for record keeping has not only made it extremely cost efficient to manage records of patients, but has also been helpful in providing better privacy to the records. Another great advantage of electronic records system is that it allows quick transfer of medical records of a patient from one hospital to another, in case of an emergency. This can be detrimental in saving many lives.
Any individual institution found to be guilty of violating HIPAA, has to pay fine in accordance with the severity of the crime. There have been over 9000 verdicts in civil courts regarding HIPAA violations, ever since it came into force.
HIPAA is the abbreviation for the health insurance portability and accountability act, which was initially enforced in 1996, but all the rules and regulations, which come under this act, became fully operational only in the year 2003. The main purpose behind the enforcement of HIPAA was that when people will continue to have access to their medical insurance when they are shifting their jobs or even when they are looking for a job. Initially it was a very difficult task to get the medical insurance company changed without paying very heavy premiums. Another benefit of the implementation of HIPAA is that it helps in protecting the medical records and other medical information of patients and this has also created a proper standard or benchmark for the management of the personal medical information of all patients.
Portability is something, which many people have not yet understood. Previously whenever a person quit his job or got fired from his current job, his medical insurance would immediately expire on termination of services from the company. When he applied for medical insurance once again with his new employer his medical state of health would be classified under the tag of pre-existing conditions. Due to this clause, the insurance company was not under any obligation to reimburse the amount, which was being spent in order to cure such a medical condition. When a person has been taking medicines regularly for high blood pressure, the medical insurance company did not have to reimburse the amount spent on these medicines since this is already a pre-existing medical condition.
Under the rules and regulations of HIPAA, no conditions could be laid down by the insurance companies regarding pre-existing conditions, the new employers would have to renew the existing insurance policy and they were also not allowed to charge high premiums. Apart from all these, they have also stated that health insurance should be made portable between companies. This is extremely useful for people who are shifting jobs. They will not have to worry about gaining coverage for their medical insurance and having to pay huge medical bills.
According to HIPAA, accountability means the standards and benchmarks which need to be followed regarding the exchange of private medical information between insurance companies, health care providers, pharmacies, patients and all other covered entities. With the advent of technology and electronic mail, violating the privacy of the medical information of a patient has become much easier.
HIPAA has given the department of Health and Human Services the right to create rules regarding the transfer as well as the management of information, which is sensitive and private. They have also established codes, which will help in the process of identifying medical expenses as well as administrative expenses. A system of creating national Ids for all health care providers as well as insurance companies has also been established by the department of Health and Human Services. All the required policies and procedures should be implemented to make sure that the private medical information of all patients is secured and protected.
Farah Fawcett who is well known all over the world for the famous roles, which she has portrayed on television as well as films, was recently on the news headlines when confidential medical information about her health problems had been leaked to all the tabloids and newspapers. Though many people have made statements about letting film stars and celebrities having some privacy, the act of publicizing the medical details of Ms Fawcett is a violation of a federal law. The Health insurance portability and accountability act of 1996 was created in order to ensure that the medical records of every person are stored and maintained in a confidential manner and no person will be allowed to access this information without the right kind of authorization.
Companies, which are involved in the collection of health, related information from people will be known as covered entities under HIPAA. All these entities will have to abide by all the rules and regulations, which come under HIPAA. All kinds of hospitals, clinics, health insurance companies which deal in medical policies, private practices which are being conducted by general practitioners, specialists, dentists, chiropractors, psychiatrists, psychologists and all kinds of medical billing centers and collection agencies are some of the covered entities which come under HIPAA. It is very essential to safeguard the information pertaining to every patient regardless of how many employees there are in an organization.
Patients who are coming to a clinic or a hospital for medical attention should be rest assured that all their details will be kept confidential. All the employees of the organization should make sure that the privacy of the information with regard to the patient has not been compromised in any manner. All the medical information which come under the purview of these medical laws are details of the prescription, records of the past medical history of the patient, record of all the appointments, messages which have been delivered either over the phone or through voice mail, forms with regard to medical insurance as well as insurance claims and any kind of information with regard to billing.
When the information, which has been stored regarding the patient, becomes outdated, it should be destroyed in such a manner that no traces are left and the privacy of the patient is also protected. All companies and organizations, which have been classified, as covered entities under HIPAA should make adequate arrangements to ensure that all the relevant documents have been destroyed in a proper manner. Every single bit of paper or printout should be eliminated in the right manner. Simply throwing the papers in the garbage dump does not mean that the right measures have been resorted to. It is possible for anyone to find a stray piece of paper inside a garbage dump and this can give them access to a lot of information like credit card numbers as well as addresses. It is always better to make use of professional services in order to make sure that all stale medical records have been shredded and disposed in the right manner.
In 1996, the Congress of the United States of America passed the health insurance portability and accountability act, which is very commonly known as HIPAA. The main purpose behind the enforcement of this law was to provide protection for the health information of every person. At the same time, provisions have been made for the right kind of trading of the right kind of information between covered entities under this act which include pharmacies, doctors, hospitals and many more. Companies and professionals who are involved in the field of health care are now being provided with access to medical software, which will comply with all the rules, which come under HIPAA.
The department of Health and Human Services in the United States has created a lot of standards to protect the health information of every individual and these are also known as the privacy rules, which come under HIPAA. This is the first time that uniform standards have been created and enforced all over the United States in order to protect the privacy of the medical information of the patient. The privacy rule has been completely written making use of legal terminology and it is very difficult for a layman to understand. All companies as well as professionals who are involved in the field of health care should be completely aware of all the rules and regulations which come under HIPAA.
The medical software which has been created in compliance with HIPAA has been designed in such a manner that it will help in protecting the privacy of the patient information and it will also allow the right people to gain access to that information when it is meant for the medical benefit of the patient. This medical software will change the way in which information management takes place. Problems in areas like coding, security of the information technology systems, changes in the personal records of the patient will also be taken care of with the help of this software. The process of reimbursement through medical insurance will also be made much more simpler through this software and all the issues which are related to the management of the health care of the patient will also be dealt with using this HIPAA compliant medical software.
Most of the office management systems are changing over from a paper based system to a computer managed office system. It is always better for all medical professionals to make use of medical software which has been created in compliance with HIPAA in order to ensure that they can easily transition from a paper based system to a computer based digital system. The usage of medical software, which has been created in compliance with HIPAA, will ensure that you abide by all the rules and regulations, which come under HIPAA. There are a large number of rules and regulations which come under HIPAA and it is also very essential to make sure that your medical software has always been updated on a regular basis so that you will continue to follow all the rules and regulations which come under HIPAA.
During a discussion on the various aspects of a good quality medical answering service, the term HIPAA training is repeated quite often. There are many people who are still unable to understand the significance of this HIPAA training. HIPAA is the acronym for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. The government of the United States created this act in order to make sure that the medical insurance of all people is properly protected when they are shifting from one job to another. Guidelines were also stated regarding the discussion of medical as well as health issues over the phone or through any other kind of electronic media like the Internet or e-mail.
How HIPAA will help in protecting the privacy of the patients as well as the health care organization should be properly discussed and also understood in the right manner. All the medical records, which contain all kinds of vital medical information regarding every patient, should be protected with a lot of care and precaution since they contain a lot of important as well as sensitive information. Such information should be guarded in a strict and confidential manner and it should not be made available to any person from the public under any circumstances. People who have been employed in medical call centers will be given the right kind of HIPAA training so that they can also ensure that the medical information regarding all the patients is being protected in the right manner. All the telephone operators who are employed in any kind of medical calling service will definitely have access to all the confidential medical details regarding the health of any person and they will be taught as to how the privacy of this medical information has to be maintained. They will be told as to how much information can be disclosed to someone who is calling and how much of information should be withheld.
All call centers, which provide good quality services will ensure that all their employees are given the right kind of HIPAA training. Every training program contains many different modules and every operator should be made aware of all the rules and regulations with regard to protecting the privacy of the medical records of every patient as well as the details with regard to their health insurance. There are many laws, which have been created regarding the method of handling as well as the protection of all kinds of sensitive information with regard to the medical condition of the patient. When an employee is not made aware of all these rules and regulations, he is likely to break some of these laws due to ignorance.
People should make sure that the medical call centers from where they are getting all the required information only employs people who have been certified as HIPAA trained. They should directly ask the call center manager about this and make sure that all the operators who are working at the specific call center have received the right kind of HIPAA training.