Home Health Why is HIPAA important?

Why is HIPAA important?


Answering the question ‘why is HIPAA important?’ is not difficult given the current public awareness of the importance of privacy and protecting private information. 

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was approved in 1996. In its initial guise it was to ensure insurance coverage continued for individuals moving between jobs. It was hoped to eliminate a potential loss of insurance coverage when this is happening.

A secondary aim of HIPAA was to cut out healthcare fraud and see to it that all ‘protected health information’ was safeguarded completely and while limiting access to health data to authorized persons.

HIPAA Benefits for Patients

It can be said that HIPAA works out best for patients. HIPAA is important because it makes sure healthcare providers, health plans, healthcare clearinghouses and business associates of HIPAA-covered outfits must set multiple safeguards in place to protect sensitive personal and health idata.

While no healthcare outfit wishes to expose sensitive data or have health information stolen, without HIPAA there would be no obligation on healthcare organizations to safeguard data – and no repercussions if they did not do this

HIPAA created rules that require healthcare organizations to control who can view health data, restricting who can view health information and who that information can be shared with. HIPAA helps to ensure that any information forwarded to healthcare providers and health plans, or information that is managed by them, transmitted, or stored by them, is governed by strict security controls. Patients are also allowed control over who their information is forwarded to and who it is shared with.

HIPAA is important for patients when they wish to take a more active role in their healthcare management and want to obtain copies of their health information. Even when taking every precaution, healthcare organizations can make mistakes when recording health information. If patients are able to review their own copies, they can check for mistakes and ensure mistakes are amended.

Obtaining copies of health information also means that patients, when they seek treatment from new healthcare providers, can pass on information and tests do not need to be repeated. In this case new healthcare providers will have the entire health history of a patient to inform their decisions. Before the HIPAA Privacy Rule, there was no requirement for healthcare outfits to share copies of patients’ health information.

HIPAA Benefits for Healthcare Organizations

HIPAA saw the addition of many important benefits for the healthcare sector to help with the transition from paper records to electronic copies of health data. HIPAA has helped to make administrative healthcare functions more efficient in healthcare while seeing to it that protected health information is shared safely.

The standards for collecting health data and electronic transactions means that everyone is using the same method. As all HIPAA-covered entities must use the same code sets and nationally recognized identifiers, this helps greatly with the transfer of electronic health information between healthcare providers, health plans, and other outfits.