Magazine article Phi Kappa Phi Forum

Drawing the Lines with Hipaa

Magazine article Phi Kappa Phi Forum

Drawing the Lines with Hipaa

Article excerpt

Most Americans sign the HIPAA agreement annually at their physicians office as a routine requirement for care. HIPAA laws protect our health care privacy, meaning others, unless we allow it, cannot access information regarding our care. For many people, HIPAA is a sacred trust between themselves and their provider.

The Health Insurance and Portability and Accountability Act was enacted in 1996. In its simplest form, HIPAA has two sections: the privacy rule and the security rule. The first deals with providers protecting patient privacy; the latter concerns the security of protected health information either in storage or transmission, especially electronically.

Critics of HIPAA cite flaws in both areas, though the primary concern is cybersecurity. Mac McMillan, an expert in health information and regulatory compliance, notes the obvious: "Does anyone really believe that the environment that average health care workers function in today is really that simple when it comes to data security?" Health care organizations experiencing security breaches - Anthem, Community Health, and my former organization, Banner Health - can attest to the flaws existing in security programs and information architecture. Already, many systems are working to create more stringent security measures than HIPAA requires to protect themselves from hackers and increasingly sophisticated malware.

HIPAA was conceived more than fifteen years ago and since then, McMillan says, "Standards that address security ... have gone through multiple updates and changes. Even new areas such as cloud, mobility, and medical device security have emerged, areas that HIPAA never envisioned. …

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