The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is one of the most important pieces of legislation to impact healthcare in recent years, designed to address insurance coverage for individuals that would otherwise be left unprotected between jobs. The legislation also takes a focus on the protection of confidential information, as well as preventing fraud, making HIPAA essential to understand for healthcare organizations.
Benefits for Providers and Professionals
When HIPAA was enacted in 1996, it brought along with it a range of improvements for consumers in the healthcare industry. A central development that necessitated the introduction of HIPAA was the transition from paper records being the standard form of documentation to digital record-keeping, which required a new and comprehensive approach to patient privacy and organizational efficiency.
HIPAA helps ensure that sensitive healthcare information can be shared between insurance providers, employers, and other industry professionals can share information when necessary while maintaining the highest possible degree of confidentiality. Essentially, HIPAA helps streamline healthcare by facilitating effective communication between healthcare providers and those they serve, standardizing the process to promote flexibility.
Benefits for Patients
While HIPAA has had a transformative effect on the way the healthcare industry operates, it offers even greater benefits for patients. Where before organizations had individual privacy policies and would rarely face repercussions for exposing patient data, HIPAA protects private citizens by safeguarding personal information through a defined set of guidelines that govern healthcare providers, health plans, and other HIPAA-regulated entities.
The primary purpose of HIPAA from a patient standpoint is to define who can view patient information as well as limiting who the new data generated can be shared with. The legislation mandates that any information disclosed to a healthcare organization must be protected by stringent security standards, and patients have final determination over when personal information is released as well as who the organization’s records are shared with.
Another aspect of HIPAA is to prevent errors in data recording from negatively impacting patient care. Even the most meticulous organizations sometimes make mistakes when recording and transferring healthcare data, and giving patients the power to access these records allows them to inspect for inaccuracies. Obtaining copies of health records prevents tests from being repeated and critical information from being lost in translation.
In the wake of a severe incident, a person may be rendered unable to communicate with their healthcare providers, and so HIPAA also allows individuals to predetermine who can speak on their behalf where their wellness is concerned. Patients can select as many parties as they desire to communicate their needs in their absence, and under the act everyone elected as a representative as complete access to relevant medical records.
For patients taking an active role in their healthcare as well as organizations that rely on effective communication with other entities, HIPAA compliance is key. By giving both a new healthcare provider and a transitioning patient access to the individual’s entire health history, care givers can offer the right treatments faster and patients have more control throughout the process. Call our offices today to learn more about our HIPAA compliant call center services.