The HIPAA act itself is the epitome for protecting the Personal Health Information (PHI) of patients across the globe. Every medical institution or clinical practice has to follow all its rules and their violation can cause serious damage to their reputation and existence.
But are healthcare organizations and caregivers are the two categories that come under the umbrella of HIPAA? No, it’s not the truth. The rule is equally significant to patients and stands strong to support their privacy, exchange and disclosure of confidential health-related data, and it’s security.
Many of us might not be aware of the fact that HIPAA was originally signed to benefit the patients and not to the medical institutions. Considering the fact, it becomes much more important for patients to cross check before making a final call to get treatment in a particular hospital.
They should confirm that the institution is operated in compliance with HIPAA standards. Also, they must have an agreement (HIPAA BAA) signed with a HIPAA compliant cloud storage provider. Evaluating all these details will ensure that the organization or practice store, access, display, and transfer PHI in sync with the HIPAA norms.
But what’s the benefit of all this struggle? Let’s explore the four major reasons why HIPAA is pertinent to the patients. Also, this information will make you aware of what rights patients have according to the law of HIPAA and how they can use them.
Keeping Health-Related Details Intact In Every Possible Way
In accordance with HIPAA norms, it’s mandatory for a medical organization to keep an eye on secure creation, storage, maintenance, and transmission of any data containing PHI. For maintaining security at all the levels these institutions have to implement managerial measures as well as take the necessary measures to protect the physical record on papers.
As far as the electronic devices are concerned that are indulged in accessing, storing, and exchanging PHI HIPAA needs to incorporate data encryption, firewalls, and antivirus software. Also, such organisations train their staff to be alert enough to identify spam emails and other threats.
By implementing complete security measures, it becomes almost impossible for cybercriminals and hackers to gain unauthorized access to the PHI and misuse it for fulfilling their malicious purposes. Thus, patients can relax as their data isn’t vulnerable to cyber attacks and threats.
Right To Obtain Copies Of Medical Record
Patients are free to ask healthcare organizations to provide them with a copy of their medical record as per the norms of HIPAA. Getting access to this record can encourage patients to actively participate in their own care.
In addition, patients can easily share this piece of information with other medical institutes. Also, they can handover it to a research organization so that they can use it for validating or confirming some hypothesis or perform experiments.
By obtaining copies of their medical record, patients can cross check if there are any errors in the documentation. They can correct these mistakes otherwise there would be an impact on future decisions regarding their health and treatment.
Restricted Access To Limited People Helps In Maintaining The Confidentiality Of The Data
There are strict rules determined by HIPAA that provides limited people with permission to access the data containing PHI such as medical employees. Also, the rule has a condition that the health-related data cannot be exchanged and shared between any random entities without seeking prior permission from the patients.
The clinical organizations who are in compliance with HIPAA are allowed to share the PHI with a few of their key business associates such as:
- Mailing vendors
- Transcription service providers
- Payment processors
But it’s the primary responsibility of these associates to keep the PHI secure and follow all other specific terms and conditions of HIPAA. This privacy allows patients to take their own call of sharing their confidential health-related details with selective individuals. Also, they can determine which individuals can share PHI on their behalf such as colleagues, family members, friends, caregivers, nurse practitioners, etc.
Patients Get Notified About Data Breaches So That They Can Take Necessary Action
In accordance with HIPAA norms, medical organizations and all their business associates have to notify patients in the case if the sensitive data is either stolen or compromised. They have to send notifications within 60 days of the breach being exposed.
This will alert the particular patient to take necessary action and protect their confidential details from getting misused. Also, they can prevent themselves from being victims of any fraudulent activity.
Patients have to update their knowledge base and get an idea of what HIPAA is and what rights they can enjoy under its umbrella. It’s essential to keep their PHI secured and shared with a group of authentic people so that there’s no risk of it getting altered and misrepresented.
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