The protection of healthcare information comes under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 or HIPAA, which was instituted to protect patients’ electronic health records. HIPAA privacy is a much discussed topic in today’s changing healthcare environment. In addition, to HIPAA privacy there is also, the HIPAA compliant messaging and security rule; which is the standard providers must adhere to in order to protect patient confidentiality and healthcare information. Before HIPAA came into effect there were no standards of safeguarding patient information, simply do not discuss a patient’s medical information with anyone outside of the circle or care and do not leave confidential information available for unauthorized persons to access.
The computer has become a necessity in almost every aspect of business, as well it goes for healthcare. Protecting information at the office is almost as secure as it gets because, HIPAA requires that terminals are accessed with user names and passwords, screens shut off after a certain amount of inactivity, and that terminals be logged off when unattended. Being mobile, even in a hospital environment, brings another set of challenges.
In today’s world of mobile technology, the transmission of information is becoming faster and measures to keep confidential information are becoming more complicated. Waiting for a doctor to answer a page in order to update them on the changing conditions of a patient is obsolete. Technology is becoming smarter and more available, even to smaller practices. What assures that patient information is protected as is broadcasted from one device to another?
Never mind the technology that some use in order to gain access to an individual’s personal information over cellular and other wireless signals. How about the cell phone that the doctor uses and takes with him everywhere he goes? How is patient information protected in the event that someone with access has their device loss or stolen? Healthcare providers and institutions go through great lengths to minimize the potential of an incident occurring. Previously, keeping electronic records safe was as simple as user name and password. However, with the expansion of the role of the computers and mobile devices in business and everyday life, the chances of someone accessing confidential information increases as well. In order to remain HIPAA compliant, providers and institutions must evolve with technology and the easy of accessing information from nearly anywhere in the world.