Essay on Information, Technology and HIPAA Act
Number of words: 1327
The United States healthcare sector is changing fast due to the changing nature of laws and the advancing technological landscape. Legislation, including the Health Insurance and Accountability Act (HIPAA), has improved the healthcare landscape by providing extra protection for patients and their data. On the other hand, technology has allowed healthcare organizations to store and share medical information among themselves safely. This paper is critical as it looks at the HIPAA, the penalties associated with its violation, and more importantly, it looks at technology, which is a vital aspect of this act.
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
In 1996, the U.S. Congress passed the HIPAA to improve the Public Health Service Act (PHSA) and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) (Cohen & Mello, 2018). The HIPAA ensures that patients’ data are accessible and sets standards on how medical professionals ought to share the data across the healthcare system to deter fraud. It is essential to understand that this act consists of different titles. Title one of the Act covers workers’ healthcare benefits when they change or lose their occupations. Title two allows employers, healthcare providers, and health insurance companies to develop national standards for electronic health care transactions (Cohen & Mello, 2018). Title three establishment procedures for pretax and healthcare expenditure, and finally, titles four and five set guidelines for group health plans and regulate life insurance policies established by companies.
Despite the availability of this act, people still violate patients’ privacy. In most cases, a violation of the HIPAA may include a situation where a HIPAA covered entity refuses to comply with one of the directives established within the act (Benitez & Malin, 2010). individuals may violate these provisions intentionally or unintentionally, but whichever the case penalty still applies. The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) tends to use non-punitive approaches to settle HIPAA infringement issues (Benitez & Malin, 2010). Also, it issues technical guidelines to help agencies fix areas of non-compliance. But if the violations are consequential, they may attract financial penalties. More importantly, there are different categories of violations, and each attracts its penalty. For instance, the breach of HIPAA provisions, including willful neglect, where no efforts have been enforced to correct the violation, may attract a minimum fine of 50,000 US dollars (Gerard et al., 2013). Also, a breach in which the covered entity was unaware attracts a minimum penalty of 100 to 50,000 US dollars per violation.
To comply with the HIPAA, most healthcare organizations create policies that direct professionals to act when dealing with patients’ information. The health record management policy is an excellent example. This policy directs the hospital to appoint a HIPAA compliance officer who ensures that the organization is up to date with HIPAA regulations. The officer also ensures that the facility follows all HIPAA guidelines. The procedure for health information exchange is another policy in this case. This policy directs individuals to share patients’ information only when it is necessary. It also deters medics from copying patients’ data on an external storage device. Protected Health Information (PHI) and Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is also a renowned policy. This policy seeks to protect patients’ medical history, test results, and insurance information.
Technology, including the internet, has changed how patients receive care in the United States healthcare system. The internet has improved medics’ careers; it has raised medical costs and enhanced compliance and communication (Asif-Ur-Rahman et al., 2018). For instance, much of the rising medical cost are associated with administrative issues and in things which are far removed from healthcare practice itself. Hospital internet fees and cloud computer storage are known operational essentials that are increasing healthcare costs (Asif-Ur-Rahman et al., 2018). Furthermore, and because of the necessary precautions needed by law, patients’ records being passed from one healthcare provider to another are managed under tight security. The security and the speed at which medical information is transferred has improved thanks to the internet. Medical professionals in different regions can pass data back and forth with minimal effort and without investing in time-consuming methods.
Healthcare organizations, in like manner, can benefit in many ways by embracing a healthcare intranet. The intranet is very much similar to the internet; however, it is different from the internet because it operates as a private network within an organization (Kotoulas et al., 2019). A well-established healthcare intranet can provide medics with access to tools critical in communication, training, and tools to improve overall patients’ outcomes. It is essential to understand that most intranet establishments are equipped with a staff directory and display all admitting staff, doctors, and nurses. This element increases efficiency within the organization as it allows staff to communicate and allocate patients efficiently.
The Virtual Private Network (VPN) is an encrypted connection over the internet that allows users to remotely connect to an organization’s network safely and with ease (Kotoulas et al., 2019). The VPN has become an essential tool in addition to the intranet solution. This technology is necessary for healthcare since it provides medical professionals with unlimited access to an organization’s network. This element is practical for hospitals with different branches and important in telemedicine.
Implications for Nurses and Patient Care
HIPAA and technology have made healthcare delivery and the provision of care more manageable. Nevertheless, and despite these advantages, nurses are still faced with significant issues. For instance, the use of technology requires extra knowledge. in the absence of technological expertise, unwarranted instances may occur (Murray et al., 2011). On the other hand, the HIPAA has forced nurses to be extra careful when gathering, sharing, and managing patients’ records. This act has also provided nurses with national standardized ways of protecting and sharing patient’s data and other personal healthcare information. The act gives patients more control over their health information, and more importantly, it sets the boundary on the use and release of healthcare records among healthcare professionals (Murray et al., 2011). Laws are changing, and technology is advancing. Nurses will be required to have technical skills in the future to serve their patients effectively.
This paper has discussed the Health Insurance and Accountability Act and healthcare technology. It is worth noting that the Health Insurance and Accountability Act has changed how nurses and healthcare organizations manage patients’ confidential records. The act provides protection and offers healthcare professionals safe methods to gather and share medical records. At the same time, technology has improved how medical professionals collect and share healthcare records amongst themselves. The internet and the intranet have provided healthcare organizations with tools to communicate and oversee medical services effectively.
Asif-Ur-Rahman, M., Afsana, F., Mahmud, M., Kaiser, M. S., Ahmed, M. R., Kaiwartya, O., & James-Taylor, A. (2018). Toward a heterogeneous mist, fog, and cloud-based framework for the internet of healthcare things. IEEE Internet of Things Journal, 6(3), 4049-4062.
Benitez, K., & Malin, B. (2010). Evaluating re-identification risks with respect to the HIPAA privacy rule. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, 17(2), 169-177.
Cohen, I. G., & Mello, M. M. (2018). HIPAA and protecting health information in the 21st century. Jama, 320(3), 231-232.
Gerard, P., Kapadia, N., Acharya, J., Chang, P. T., & Lefkovitz, Z. (2013). Cybersecurity in radiology: access of public hot spots and public Wi-Fi and prevention of cybercrimes and HIPAA violations. American Journal of Roentgenology, 201(6), 1186-1189.
Kotoulas, A., Stratis, I., Goumenidis, T., Lambrou, G., & Koutsouris, D. D. (2019). Short-term adoption rates for a web-based portal within the intranet of a hospital information system. BMJ health & care informatics, 26(1), e100004.
Murray, T. L., Calhoun, M., & Philipsen, N. C. (2011). Privacy, confidentiality, HIPAA, and HITECH: implications for the health care practitioner. The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, 7(9), 747-752.