When I first heard about HIPAA, I was like..What does this mean and why is it necessary? Let’s face it, the name HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996), does not generate any excitement…then again, few regulations do. I wonder how many healthcare professionals even know what HIPAA stands for and its intended purpose- to help consumers maintain their insurance coverage and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the health care system by:
- Standardizing electronic transmission of common administrative and financial transactions (such as billing and payments)
- Having unique health identifiers for individuals, employers, health plans, and heath care providers
- Implementing privacy and security standards to protect the confidentiality and integrity of individually identifiable health information
After all, the goals of the healthcare professional and the underlying purpose of HIPAA are the same i.e., provide quality care to patients at an affordable price. Providing quality care to patients includes not only treatment and care, but also making accurate patient data available to providers at the point of care so that they can make the right decisions. Safeguarding this data by preventing unauthorized access to it, having backup and disaster recovery plans to recover the data in case of emergencies should be a part of any standard practice operating procedure, whether HIPAA exists or not. It is a no brainer as it protects the practice as well as patients. I feel that when healthcare practices start looking at HIPAA through a “quality of patient care lens” or a “business continuity lens” they would more motivated to implement technologies and policies that happen to be a part of HIPAA as well. May be calling it the” Improving Healthcare for Everyone Act” or something along those lines would have been a better choice.