New HIPAA Privacy Rules Address Changes In Technology

Posted by Bhavesh Joshi On Monday, February 18, 2013 0 comments
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
As we all know, modern technology has changed nearly every aspect of how we live our lives, whether for convenience, safety, progression, or pure entertainment. Given the rapid rate at which technology evolves and alters our landscape, it can be quite difficult for institutionalized systems to keep up. The Department of Health and Human Services recently took a giant leap toward modernity, enacting changes in its HIPPA legislation to compensate for fifteen years of technological advancement. What does that means for you? Here are some ways in which the new HIPAA privacy rules address changes in technology:

What is HIPPA? 

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 mandates guidelines for the handling of patient records and health information. Every time you pay a visit to any doctor's office, you are asked to sign a HIPAA statement, which outlines the terms of your protection. For example, HIPPA outlines things like with whom your doctor may share your personal medical information, and for what purposes.

Why the changes? 

Simply put, the business of handling medical records is much different today than it was fifteen years ago, when the HIPAA bill was first enacted. The Age of Information has ushered in new ways of recording, organizing, and sharing data, which means that sensitive information pertaining to your health records is vulnerable to unauthorized sharing and usage unless there are definitive legal guidelines in place to protect digital information.

Exactly what changes are being made? 

First of all, HIPAA is expanding its reach beyond health care providers, health insurance claims processors, and healthcare coverage companies to include contractors and subcontractors that those entities do business with. Modern technology enables businesses to operate remotely, and to hire employees and freelancers from all over the globe. This means that your sensitive medical information may be shared with numerous entities outside of your awareness. HIPAA now protects your privacy in this regard. Additionally, you may now request your records electronically, which is a great convenience. The new HIPAA guidelines have also increased the penalties for security breaches, as well as redefined how and when security breaches must be reported.

Your personal medical information is serious business, and those entities charged with handling your business are under the microscope when it comes to protecting your privacy, thanks to HIPAA. Now you can rest assured that HIPAA is up to date in regards to the digital age, so that your sensitive data is under virtual lock and key. To learn more about what these changes in HIPAA may mean for you, visit the United States Department of Health and Human Services website at HHS.gov.

About the Author: Jasper Draghi is the manager of a large hospital system's team of information systems jobs. He loves watching medical technology change and is acutely aware of new privacy concerns.

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