The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act is a law that was created in 1996. It was established by Congress to put privacy rules in place to protect patients. The law is hundreds of pages long. However, the main goal is to make sure that a patient’s information is not being used for something other than its original purpose. Historically, the healthcare industry has always keep patients information safe. However, The HIPAA rules were made to create extra safeguards. HIPPA defines the way “health records” are kept. HIPPA also give patients the right to know how their information is being used.
There are lots of security guidelines that must be followed. Many of the HIPPA Security regulations discuss the special risks that electronic processing (computers) can create. This means that companies must follow strict policies to handle the way their patients records are kept (and sent) on computers and company networks.
PHI is Protected Health Information. PHI is anything about a patient’s health or payment. This includes basic things like name, address, date of birth and insurance information. Here are a few examples:
• A ‘sticky’ note with a patient’s name and the words ‘claim for March 23 denied’
• A recorded phone message giving the person’s name and the reason they want an appointment
• A referral request
• A computer screen showing a patient’s name and text or graphic representation concerning their health
• A discussion about a recent procedure performed where the patient’s last name was mentioned
There are some simple ways to protect privacy:
If you take notes about a patient, do not leave them at your desk.
At the end of the day shred documents that have private information.
Don’t leave information up on your computer screen, if you walk away from your desk.
Keep voice mail messages protected by using a secure password.
Do NOT share information about celebrities or well-known individuals with ANYONE!. It can be very tempting to gossip about clients who are famous. These individuals need extra steps taken to protect them.
Keep your voice down when discussing patient finances, both in person and over the phone.
Do not use a smart phone (with camera) in the office. Makes call in a break room, or outside the building.