The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a legislation introduced in 1996, mainly to deal with one concern: Insurance coverage for people who are in between jobs. Without HIPAA, employees encountered a loss of insurance coverage whenever they were in between jobs.
HIPAA had a second purpose: To avoid healthcare fraud and make certain that each protected health information (PHI) was adequately secured and to limit access to medical data to authorized persons only.
The HIPAA introduced the following important benefits to the healthcare industry:
- the transition from paper documents to digital copies of healthcare data
- streamlined administrative healthcare functions
- enhanced efficiency in the healthcare market
- made sure that PHI is shared safely
Because all HIPAA-covered entities need to utilize exactly the same code sets and nationally recognized identifiers, it makes the transfer of electronic protected health information (ePHI) between healthcare providers, health plans, and other entities much easier.
Debatably, the people most benefitted by the HIPAA are the patients. HIPAA ensures that healthcare providers, business associates, health plans, and healthcare clearinghouses implement multiple safeguards to keep PHI secure. Although no healthcare provider would like any sensitive health information compromised or stolen, without the HIPAA there won’t be any requirement for healthcare providers to protect data – and no consequences when they fail to do so.
HIPAA established regulations that require healthcare providers to control who gets access to protected health information and limiting who can view healthcare information and to whom that information can be disclosed to. The HIPAA helps to make sure that the information shared with healthcare providers and health plans, or data that is created, transmitted, or stored by them, is governed by tough security controls. Patients are likewise given control as to whom their data is released to or shared with.
HIPAA is essential to patients who would like to have a more active part in their health care and would like to get copies of their health data. Even with utmost care, healthcare establishments can make errors when documenting health information. When patients can get copies, they could check for mistakes and be sure they are made right.
Getting copies of healthcare data likewise helps patients when they are seeking treatment from new healthcare providers because it is easy to pass on information. Repetition of tests will likely not be required always. The new healthcare providers also get access to the entire medical history of a patient, which help them to make more informed decisions. Before the introduction of the HIPAA Privacy Rule, there was no demand on healthcare providers to release copies of patients’ medical information.