Saturday, January 14, 2012

What Is The Personal Information That HIPAA Protects?

The personal information of patients is protected and safeguarded by the various rules and regulations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) that was enacted as a federal law in 1996. HIPAA ensures that all confidential medical information of patients is secure and safe. The patients will be able to decide on the accessibility of medical records and this gives them a great deal of control over how and when their medical records can be accessed and transmitted.

If the confidential information of patients is to be used for any other purpose other than treatment then patients or their relatives or representatives will need to give proper authorization in this regard. This permission to access medical records will not be required if it is used for treatment purposes.

Whenever a patient visits a health care provider for the first time they would be provided with a notice of privacy that needs to be signed by the patient. This form is to enable the patient become aware of the various provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

HIPAA helps in protecting any kind of patient information whether it is stored electronically or in physical form. The safeguards that need to be enforced in both cases is similar as the intention is to prevent any misuse.

What Are The Various Types Of Patient Information That Is Protected By HIPAA

The most basic patient information that needs to be safeguarded is name of the patient and their address. This information can be used to identify the patient easily.

Apart from this age, phone, fax number and email address is also provided by patients and they would also need to be protected as per the provisions of HIPAA.

There should also be adequate safeguards for medical records of past and present along with test results, X rays, scan reports and other relevant reports would also need to be protected.

Billing records and insurance claims made are to be protected as per the guidelines specified by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

The covered entities usually authorize certain employees to access the confidential medical records of patient and no one else is allowed to access them. This is done for the purpose of preventing any misuse of such information for commercial purposes. Authorization to access the protected information of patients will not be required by federal and state agencies. Apart from this they can also be accessed without permission on the orders of the court or to solve a crime.

There are usually very stringent provisions for violating the guidelines of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. The penalties for the violation can be fine or imprisonment depending on the extent of the violation. The violations can be civil or criminal in nature.

The best way to avoid any sort of violation would be by creating awareness about the various rules and regulations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. This can be done by organizing training programs using the online medium or through classroom sessions.

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