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ComplianceNow

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, commonly known as HIPAA, is a series of regulatory standards that outline the lawful use and disclosure of protected health information (PHI). HIPAA compliance is regulated by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and enforced by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR).

Why is HIPAA Important for Healthcare Organizations?

HIPAA introduced a number of important benefits for the healthcare industry to help with the transition from paper records to electronic copies of health information. HIPAA has helped to streamline administrative healthcare functions, improve efficiency in the healthcare industry, and ensure protected health information is shared securely.
The standards for recording health data and electronic transactions ensure everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet. Since all HIPAA-covered entities must use the same code sets and nationally recognized identifiers, this helps enormously with the transfer of electronic health information between healthcare providers, health plans, and other entities.

Why is HIPAA Important for Patients?

Arguably, the greatest benefits of HIPAA are for patients. HIPAA is important because it ensures healthcare providers, health plans, healthcare clearinghouses, and business associates of HIPAA-covered entities must implement multiple safeguards to protect sensitive personal and health information.

While no healthcare organization wants to expose sensitive data or have health information stolen, without HIPAA there would be no requirement for healthcare organizations to safeguard data – and no repercussions if they failed to do so.

HIPAA established rules that require healthcare organizations to control who has access to health data, restricting who can view health information and who that information can be shared with. HIPAA helps to ensure that any information disclosed to healthcare providers and health plans, or information that is created by them, transmitted, or stored by them, is subject to strict security controls. Patients are also given control over who their information is released to and to who it is shared.

HIPAA is important for patients who want to take a more active role in their healthcare and want to obtain copies of their health information. Even with great care, healthcare organizations can make mistakes when recording health information. If patients are able to obtain copies, they can check for errors and ensure mistakes are corrected.

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