What is HIPAA?

You're reading What is HIPAA?, posted on Thursday, March 10th, 2011 at 2:09 am in HIPAA, on BrainBloggers at the Stay Healthy blog. More after the jump.

To know what is HIPAA, one must have an idea about the medical field and its intricacies. What is HIPAA; it basically restricts the flow of health information of a patient without proper authorization.

What is HIPPA? HIPPA or Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act was passed in 1996. This Act was the setting stone in national standards to safeguard the medical information of an individual. Though it was signed in 1996, the “portability” aspect of the law (i.e., it allows people with current or previously existing medical condition to receive full medical insurance) is in practice. There are many provisions to this law, which include strict codes for the even transfer of electronic data, including the most mundane activities such as billing or other transactions. The Act also includes provisions for the patient to have the right to access his medical information and restrict the distribution of the information. There are some specific procedural, technological and physical security protections, health care institutes must undertake. This is to protect the confidentiality of the patient’s medical information.

To know what is HIPAA, means, to know there is a wind of change in the whole way, a patient’s private information is handled. As more and more information is transferred electronically, the HIPAA laws are getting more and more stringent on the protection of one’s health information specifically through these channels. So, the next question that comes to mind, is what comes under the umbrella of “protecting information”? This Act protects the identifiable health information such as birthdate, address, Social Security number and so on. Neither the current condition nor the future should not be disclosed unless it is absolutely necessary. The information that is not covered by this particular Act should be absolutely non-identifiable. This non access to private and confidential information helps to prevent identity thefts and also solution in case of any. This confidentiality also helps preventing health insurance providers use one’s health information. The organizations are capable of using the information to pass on sound medical care or may extract payment on medical grounds and so on.

Incase the disclosure of one’s health information does not fall under the category, one must authorize the transaction of the provided information in writing. The government is well-informed about the impediments that common people face with technical writing, so to convey one’s comprehension any authorization should be done in plain language.

Preventing identity thefts is not the extent of this Act. What is HIPAA. It is more than an Act. It is something, the present and the future of the medical bureaucracy is based upon. The HIPAA procedure templates and the securiy policy are usually suited to number of organizations such as Health Plans, Hospital, Long Term Care organizations, Third Party Administrators, Insurance Companies, Physicians, Clearing Houses, State Agencies, County government, business associates and so on.

HIPAA is not restricted to health care industry only. It is advised for non-health industry to incorporate the Act into their setting too. The Administrative Simplication section is one of those aspects which mandate privacy and security of Protected Health Information (PHI) is concerned of the way PHI should be handled when mentioned in emails. Some of those suggested methods are:

  • To make sure users and email systems are authenticated such that PHI is not misused
  • Email messages which contain PHI is secure while transmitting over an unguarded url
  • To keep a sharp lookout on email servers and messages which may have the PHI