You only have to glance at the pre-and-post covid era to understand how readily the healthcare industry can adapt and evolve. Take the speed of new vaccines, for example. Would that have happened a few decades ago? Probably not.
But that's not to say things were static back in those days. There were still transformational things happening in healthcare. For example, 27 years ago, the HIPAA act was launched, changing how customers' health data was managed.
In this blog post, we'll explain some of the essential features of HIPAA and why it plays such a critical role. So how has HIPAA changed healthcare? Read on for all the answers.
What is HIPAA?
HIPAA is short for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. It's a federal law that was first set up in 1996.
HIPAA is all about personal health data and privacy, and it's a law that outlines the standards health organizations and associates must maintain to keep patient data private and secure. Here are some of the notable features:
The HIPAA sets out explicit rules on patient data. It helps protect the privacy of a patient's personal medical information.
The privacy rules govern what data a health business must protect. Security rules govern how the health company will make that data safe. That includes how it's stored, accessed, and moved.
The HIPAA also allows patients to access and manage their data. It provides new rights for customers when interacting with health providers.
Enforcement and Breach Notifications
The other part of HIPPA is how the law enforces the rules and any breaches of those rules. It's a combination of criminal and civil penalties depending on the breach's severity.
Once a breach has happened, the HIPAA outlines the protocol for how businesses notify customers that their data was compromised.
Electronic Transmission and Administration Standards
Finally, HIPAA covers relevant information on patient data administration, including standards for transferring that data electronically.
Why Was HIPAA Established?
The act was initially introduced to support health insurance policies when people were between jobs.
It was primarily there to simplify record keeping and move health data systems to an electronic environment. And the result of this act was a healthcare system that would give patients the security and privacy they needed for their data.
That's something patients use even when moving or in-between health insurance policies. Since its inception in 1996, it's become a vital part of the health industry.
It set a standard for all health providers, so even when patients moved providers, they had the peace of mind that their information was still stored and transferred safely.
Benefits of HIPAA
Let's explore what HIPAA offers for patients. Here are some of the most notable benefits.
Our health data often contains some of the most sensitive and confidential information about us. So it makes sense that privacy will be high on our list of priorities.
The privacy offered by HIPAA means patients don't need to worry about who has access to their data or whether a health company has stored it securely. They also get the reassurance that a company won't disclose personal information about their health.
Customers can also ask for a copy of their data which means they can check it and ensure it's accurate. And if it's not, they have the right to request changes.
It Offers Modern Security
Data security has never been so vital in a world of cyberattacks, data theft, hacks, and data hijacks.
The HIPAA helps ensure patient data remains secure. The act mandates healthcare businesses to use robust security protocols to help protect health data against modern and continued threats.
It's broad, covering technical, physical, and admin guidelines for data security.
That provides consistency, and patients don't need to worry when moving from one healthcare provider to another that they may encounter substandard security.
It Helps Provide More Transparency
Managing your health can sometimes bring anxiety and lots of questions. Accessing your healthcare data means getting answers faster and getting the information you need clearly and honestly.
This can often give you reassurance and will help cut down on the time it takes to get the answers in person via consultations and checkups.
It Makes Healthcare Providers Accountable
The law includes enforcement, and if a provider breaches the law, they may incur fines. So that offers an extra layer of reassurance for customers that all healthcare providers have an equal duty to protect their data.
It also encourages businesses to review their data security regularly, which is vital in this era when new threats and risks always appear.
It Sets Standards
When moving between healthcare providers, you want to know that you are getting the same high standard of service. That includes aspects such as privacy and security too.
And since HIPAA became law, it's helped customers understand that they can move healthcare companies without compromising on important things like data security.
How Has HIPAA Changed Healthcare?
The HIPAA has spotlighted how healthcare organizations manage and use customer data.
It raised the standards with which businesses must operate and means they have a duty of care to protect your personal information.
It's also helped push the industry to embrace the most high-tech solutions, including modern encryption, to help ensure that data is stored securely and accurately.
Putting this technology in place also makes it easier for multiple providers to liaise and transfer data, making the process smoother and faster for customers wishing to change companies.
HIPAA: Protecting Your Data
How has HIPAA changed healthcare? Firstly, it was a welcome change for patients and organizations. Securely regulating data meant the healthcare industry could upgrade its technology, and patients could interact without worrying about their privacy.
We'll undoubtedly see more exciting technological and regulatory evolutions that will further improve healthcare.
Before we go, we'll leave you with one final recommendation. Explore some of the other ways technology and ideas are changing the healthcare world. View our Telehealth platform now for a glimpse into the future of health.