HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act which was formed in 1996 and protects patient health information.
The HIPAA Rules apply to two groups: covered entities and business associates. A covered entity is a health plan, health care clearinghouse or health care provider who electronically transmit any health information. Examples of covered entities are:
A business associate is a person or entity that performs certain functions or activities that involve the use or disclosure of protected health information on behalf of, or provides services to, a covered entity. Examples of business associates (whose services involve access to PHI) are:
For more detailed information on the definition of a covered entity and businesses associate visit The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) website.
The HIPAA Privacy Rule provides federal protections for personal health information and gives patients rights to their own protected health information (PHI). The Privacy Rule permits the disclosure of PHI needed for patient care and other important purposes.
The HIPAA Security Rule requires covered entities, business associates, and their subcontractors to become HIPAA compliant by implementing safeguards to protect electronic protected health information (ePHI) that is created, received, or maintained. It specifies a series of administrative, physical, and technical safeguards to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of ePHI.
HHS points out that as health care providers and other entities dealing with PHI move to computerized operations, including computerized physician order entry (CPOE) systems, electronic health records (EHR), and radiology, pharmacy, and laboratory systems, HIPAA compliance is more important than ever. Similarly, health plans provide access to claims as well as care management and self-service applications. While all of these electronic methods provide increased efficiency and mobility, they also drastically increase the security risks facing healthcare data.
The Security Rule is in place to protect the privacy of individuals’ health information, while at the same time allowing covered entities to adopt new technologies to improve the quality and efficiency of patient care. The Security Rule, by design, is flexible enough to allow a covered entity to implement policies, procedures, and technologies that are suited to the entity’s size, organizational structure, and risks to patients’ and consumers’ e-PHI.
The need for data security has grown with the increase in the use and sharing of electronic patient data. Today, high-quality care requires healthcare organizations to meet this accelerated demand for data while complying with HIPAA regulations and protecting PHI. Having a data protection strategy in place allows healthcare organizations to:
The best data protection solutions recognize and protect patient data in all forms, including structured and unstructured data, emails, documents, and scans, while allowing healthcare providers to share data securely to ensure the best possible patient care. Patients entrust their data to healthcare organizations, and it is the duty of these organizations to take care of their protected health information.
HIPAA is usually misconstrued to be only for organizations. However it can very well be used for making products and services compliant listed below.
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