The healthcare industry is one of the most important in our society today. As a result, it is essential to understand and adhere to the privacy policies that have been put in place in order to protect the rights and confidentiality of patients, as well as the data of healthcare providers. In this blog post, we will discuss the basics of healthcare industry privacy policies, what you need to know, and how to stay compliant.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
The main purpose of HIPAA is to ensure that individuals’ health information remains private and secure. It outlines rules for how healthcare providers can use and disclose protected health information (PHI), and it requires that PHI be stored and transmitted securely. It also provides individuals with the right to access their health information and receive copies of their medical records. HIPAA requires that healthcare providers take certain steps to protect PHI from unauthorized access or disclosure, such as implementing administrative, physical, and technical safeguards.
Finally, HIPAA requires organizations to report any security breaches or unauthorized uses of PHI. This helps to ensure that individuals are informed of any potential risks associated with their health information and can take steps to protect themselves. Additionally, the HIPAA Security Rule requires organizations to develop policies and procedures related to protecting e-PHI. These policies and procedures must address issues like system backups, data integrity, access control, user authentication, auditing systems, risk management, data encryption, and more. Organizations must also provide employees with training on these policies and procedures so that they understand how to best protect e-PHI. Additionally, HIPAA encourages organizations to use an effective incident response plan in the event of a breach or unauthorized use of PHI. This plan should include details about how to respond to a breach and which processes should be followed in order to protect patients’ privacy. Lastly, the HIPAA Omnibus Rule makes it clear that any third-party contractors who handle e-PHI must comply with all HIPAA requirements and sign a Business Associate Agreement with the organization in order to prove compliance.
The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA)
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
FERPA is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. It applies to all schools that receive funds from the U.S. Department of Education. Under FERPA, educational institutions are required to provide parents and eligible students (those 18 and older) with access to their education records, including medical records.
FERPA also requires that schools keep confidential any information they have collected about a student’s academic performance and medical history. This includes grades, test scores, medical records, disciplinary records, and other information the school has collected in the course of providing education services to the student.
In addition, FERPA requires schools to have a written policy for protecting student privacy and to inform parents and students about their rights and responsibilities under the law. Schools must also provide access to educational records to anyone who has written permission from the student or parent, or who meets certain criteria established by the school.
Finally, FERPA sets out procedures for students to challenge the accuracy or completeness of their education records and for the school to correct any mistakes. Schools must also notify parents if any personally identifiable information about their child has been released without their consent.
The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH)
HITECH is a federal law that provides a framework for the adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) and related health information technology. The purpose of HITECH is to promote the use of electronic health records, enhance the privacy and security of health information, and reduce healthcare costs.
HITECH requires organizations that store, process, and transmit electronic health information to maintain appropriate safeguards to protect patient privacy. These safeguards must include technical, administrative, and physical measures designed to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the information.
HITECH also requires organizations to notify patients in the event of a data breach and provide them with information about the potential risks associated with their medical data. Organizations must also ensure that any third-party vendors they contract with have appropriate security measures in place to protect patient data.
In addition, HITECH includes provisions requiring healthcare providers to inform patients of their right to request access to their health information and make changes or corrections to it. This includes providing patients with the ability to view, download, and transmit their medical records electronically.
By creating a comprehensive set of guidelines for protecting health information, HITECH helps ensure that patient data remains secure and private. It also helps foster a greater level of trust between healthcare providers and their patients.