Providers Practicing Privacy: How the Health IT Privacy Guide Applies to Your Practice
When a person walks through the door of any healthcare provider, they transform into a patient. They are now entrusting another with their health, healing, care—and their privacy.
The Privacy and Security of Electronic Health Information Guide outlines the regulations around electronic patient privacy, security, and file sharing that helps healthcare providers keep their patients and their practices protected.
Electronic document storage is also a key component to achieving and maintaining HIPAA compliance, and it can be a huge help to practices as they strive to keep their patient records secure.
The Purpose of the Guide
The purpose of the Health IT Privacy Guide is to help Information Technology (IT) healthcare professionals, practices, and patients to understand and comply with the federal requirements upheld by the offices of The US Department of Health and Human Services (HSS).
There are 4 main organizations/programs involved:
- The HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Rules
- EHR Incentive or “Meaningful Use” Programs
- Federal Organizations
- National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Importance of Privacy and Security
Electronic health information security is as vital as maintaining and caring for the health of the patient. In fact, they are linked. If a patient does not trust that the personal information they are sharing with their doctor is confidential and secure, they may not be completely honest about their condition. This can be dangerous for the patient’s health, and it could jeopardize the decision-making process involved in treating that person.
Inadequate privacy and security measures can also be extremely detrimental by opening up a provider to breaches and cyber attacks, which, in addition to exposing sensitive information about a patient, can have severe reputational and financial impacts on the provider.
In order to keep patient trust intact, the Health IT Privacy Guide encourages providers to keep accurate records and ensure that patients can request and know how to use electronic access to those records. It also upholds that records should be kept private and secure, but should also be accessible to authorized people upon request.
HIPAA Rules and Your Practice
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) gives Covered Entities (CEs) and Business Associates (BAs) federal protection for the patient health information they keep, whether it is stored on a computer, in an EHR, or on paper.
HIPAA also sets forth rules to regulate patient rights through privacy, national standards on electronic health records, and procedures to follow if a breach occurs.
Both CEs and BAs must always maintain HIPAA compliance, so it’s good practice for any healthcare provider to know what information requires privacy and protection and how their associates and staff need to behave to keep it safe.
Patient Health Information Rights
HIPAA’s Privacy Rule holds healthcare professionals responsible for providing patients with a Notice of Privacy Practices (NPP).
This rule guarantees patients’ requests for medical record access, amendments, and accounting of disclosures will be answered. Patients are also granted the right to restrict information, and providers must honor any requests for confidential communication.
EHR, HIPAA Security Rule and Cybersecurity
In order to achieve HIPAA compliance under the Security Rule, providers must not only focus on the safety and integrity of their Electronic Health Records (EHRs), but also on any of their technologies which might be used to transmit that data. This includes software, hardware, email systems, and even mobile phones and tablets.
Electronic health information security is also a must to protect against breaches and cyber attacks. Because the format and transmission of data in EHRs is digitized and powered by the internet now, these technologies must also be safeguarded to keep information secure as it travels from provider to patient, patient to provider, and provider to pharmacy.
Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentives/Meaningful Use Objectives for Security and Privacy
By continually demonstrating the adoption of EHRs, health providers can earn paid incentives through the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Program, also referred to as “Meaningful Use.”
Meaningful Use gives might to patient rights by requiring that individual health information must be kept secure and that the patient must have access to it.
To qualify for incentives, providers must achieve Core 1 and 2 Objectives with their EHRs, and they must report and confirm their progress on meeting the measures and objectives in Meaningful Use.
How eFileCabinet Can Help
With so much of the medical recordkeeping and sharing process going electronic, the Health IT privacy guide is a great resource for practices. It allows them to understand how to achieve compliance in privacy, security, file sharing, and is also a great outline of the rights patients have under HIPAA.
Whether all the documentation on client healthcare in a practice exists in paperwork, electronically, or a combination of both, the fact still remains that it must all be properly stored, organized, and secured.
eFileCabinet document management software can help increase security, ease compliance, and enhance safety. They are the leader in their field and a great solution to implement for keeping a secure, organized, and compliant practice.
Patient care is best held in the hands of their doctors and staff. The integrity and security of patients’ information is required by law, but the trust it cultivates is just a good business practice.
Fill out the form on this page to see a 15-minute demo of eFileCabinet products and how they can help you with compliance.