When Congress passed the HIPAA Privacy Rule in 1996, it presented challenges for healthcare organizations when working with patient information. However, these organizations have also seen benefits from HIPAA. For healthcare organizations, meeting the provisions regarding this privacy rule can be tricky and they are advised to find guidance from an experienced law firm they can trust.
A Brief History Of The HIPAA Privacy Rule
In 1996, Congress passed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, also known as “HIPAA.” One of the provisions of the Act (Section II) severely restricts the ability of healthcare organizations to share patient information.
Each organization must get a signed form from a patient indicating to whom the organization may share the patient’s medical information. Without that written permission, the information cannot be shared in any way that would allow an employee to identify the patient from the medical information shared.
Challenges Presented By The HIPAA Privacy Rule
Healthcare research is not as easy as it used to be. Researchers within a healthcare organization are severely hampered because they cannot freely do studies based on patient chart data, unless the patient releases that information to them. This inability to research freely has caused the cost of recruitment for studies and surveys to rise considerably.
Patient care has also been hampered by the HIPAA Privacy Rule. Healthcare providers cannot freely share patient information between them. Each client and patient must give implicit permission for a healthcare provider to share information. Without being able to share patient information between providers, it takes more time to obtain critical information that can affect patient care.
Healthcare organizations face additional legal costs if they violate HIPAA privacy provisions. These costs make many organizations extremely cautious of sharing patient information, even when the patient has given permission for information sharing.
Costs have risen because of the complexity of implementing HIPAA privacy provisions. Healthcare organizations regularly bring in consultants to ensure they are meeting all the provisions of the Act. These organizations also need to provide training and certification for employees on the provisions of the Act. Implementing HIPAA privacy provisions has also created extra paperwork and administrative activities for maintaining compliance.
Benefits Of The HIPAA Privacy Rule
Despite the challenges of implementing Section II of the Act, healthcare organizations have seen several positive benefits from it.
The HIPAA Privacy Rule has helped to create a culture of compliance within many healthcare organizations. With the ever-changing environment of healthcare regulations, compliance is imperative.
This privacy rule has also helped to build better security within organizations. To comply with the Act, security has had to improve both physically and electronically.
When sharing patient files electronically, the HIPAA Privacy Rule has helped promote this ability between organizations. When a patient provides permission for sharing, many providers can send the records instantly through electronic means.
The Act has even helped to develop national standards for healthcare information and patient confidentiality. In times past, there were few standards for how medical records were kept or secured.
Meeting The Provisions Of The HIPAA Privacy Rule
Meeting the patient privacy provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act will have an impact on your healthcare organization. You need to have knowledgeable representation to help you meet the provisions of the HIPAA Privacy Rule.
The Healthcare Group here at Brown & Fortunato can help. The attorneys within this area have the knowledge and experience to guide your organization on most aspects of today’s healthcare regulatory environment.
Call us today to speak with one of our attorneys, (806) 345-6320. If you would like to engage with us through email, you can view this information on our Contact Us page. Our website offers a complete profile of the services our law firm offers. You can also visit our office at 905 S. Fillmore, Suite 400, in Amarillo, Texas.
This information is subject to change. Please check for updates that are more recent than the published date of this article.