Information on HIPAA

HIPAA and the Medical Field

What is HIPAA?

HIPAA ( Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) refers to a US law  that addresses insurance portability issues and provides measures that protect the privacy and the confidentiality of Patients ‘medical records and personal information.

Although this act was passed and became part of the Social Security Act in 1996; initially, it mainly addressed insurance portability which helps American Citizens move with their health insurance policies when changing jobs. Its main purpose was to safeguard the health care coverage for workers who lost or changed jobs.

The second part which protects patients’ privacy was developed by the Department of Human Services as a measure to put in place privacy standards that would protect patients’ past, present and future medical records and other health data provided to medical institutions and health care providers.

These new standards give patients access to their medical records and also gives them more control on the use and disclosure of their personal medical information.

What exactly is HIPAA Regarding the Medical Field?

HIPAA affects all health care providers and medical assistants who handle administrative tasks such as patient relations, record-keeping and insurance billing.

HIPAA gives patients the right to access their medical records and health information. A patient can therefore request to be given a list of all the people that are privy to his or her records and upon finding any breach of confidentiality, they have a right to file a formal complaint.

Under the new HIPAA rules, all health institutions must put in place official measures to ensure that the HIPAA rules are adhered to. This includes but is not limited to training staff members on the regulations of HIPAA privacy rules and appointing a privacy officer who will be responsible for making sure that these privacy and confidentiality measures are applied.

It sets national standards for storing, accessing and Handling Patients medical records. Doctors and health care facilities were required to evaluate and update all the operational standards and procedures followed in the storage of health records, access to the medical records and authorization to catalogues that store patients’ personal information, health records and disclosures.

In addition to this, the federal security laws require physicians to update their Business Associate Agreements as well as their Notices of Private Practice. They must also understand the importance of encryption automated protected medical information

These changes were to be updated and implemented by 23rd September, 2013.

If you have any additional questions or concerns regarding HIPAA, please feel free to give us a call at 817-500-5288 and we will be more than happy to help answer any questions.