Digitized medical records are making it more convenient than ever before for patients to gain access to records without having to contact a doctor. The patient can now simply log in to an online portal and view there medical test, and records. With that said it also makes Medical & Health Records Privacy a higher risk for having these types of records breached and falling into the wrong hands.
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HIPAA and what it means to you
HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act or called (HIPAA) was created so that the healthcare industry would computerize paper records. Because of this, it leads to concerns over the unauthorized disclosures of PHI. Or the Protected Health Information and because of this it resulted in more privacy and security regulations in 2013
HIPAA regulations are enforced by the United States Department of Health and Human Services. However, if the Attorney General discovers that parties are not in compliance they can take action against that party as well.
When Fines are concerned that will be on the Office for Civil Rights. They can impose fines on business Associates and Entities for breaching the PHI.
What health information is protected in HIPAA
The below is considered to be “Protected Health Information”
Medical record numbers
License plate numbers
Voice prints, fingerprints, retinal prints
Dates directly related to someone
Any other unique identifying characteristics
Social Security numbers
Certificate of license numbers
Serial numbers or device identifiers
Health insurance beneficiary number
Photographic images full face photos
Are you covered by HIPAA?
Almost all health plans, health care clearinghouses, health care providers and any endorsed sponsors of the Medicare prescription drug discount card are considered HIPAA Covered. Because these companies almost regular come into contact with Protected Health Information.
Also, there are Businesses that do not create or see Protected Health Information as a regular job but who still provide a third-party service for the above-covered business during a time period they will see PHI. Before service can be done the business associate has to sign a business associate agreement to ensure the highest standards of any PHI it has access to.
What does PHI or Protected Health Information?
It basically means that all your health data like medical billing, prescriptions, treatments are considered “Protected Health Information the following may include:
- Health or treatment that is discussed with your doctor
- Talks between your doctor and other doctors
- Insurance provider health information o you
- Payment and billing information
What rights do you have under HIPAA
Under HIPAA you may:
- Receive copies of your medical records. Must be provided within 30 days. Keep in mind that health providers could charge you for copies.
- Request that certain information may not be shared with other providers in the health field.
- Have incorrect or missing information corrected within your medical records.
- Know how your private health info is being used and how has access to your records.
Can substance abuse data be released?
These types of records are some of the most confidential records, even more so than the standard medical records. However, there are instances when some of the records pertaining to you can be released with your consent. They may be when:
- There is a medical emergency
- Anonymized data that cannot be tied back to you
- Child abuse has been suspected
- Commit a crime at a treatment facility
- Under a court order because the judge has on another way to obtain the data needed.
Medical records can be accessed by law enforcement is some cases
These limited circumstances law enforcement may view records without your consent.
- Locating a suspect
- Locating a fugitive
- Locating a missing person
- Victim of a crime that is unable to agree or object to information being used to investigate that crime
- Emergencies to alerting law enforcement about a crime being committed
- When a serious threat to safety and health are happening and the information can help officers reduce or eliminate harm
Medical Privacy tips
Even with HIPAA in place you still show take steps that will help ensure you protect your medical & health records stay Private.
View your records regularly to make sure they are correct.
Don’t provide your Medical & Health Records to just anyone. Be sure that when you do they are covered by HIPAA.
These are just some tips to keeping your medical & health records Privacy intact. Remember because records are online they are more convenient for us, but that comes at a price of having our sensitive data being compromised. Following the above could help minimize the risk of having your medical and health files breached.