The principal role for which the HIPAA law was enacted was to ensure that a patient’s right to privacy was enforced. Data privacy is especially important because it safeguards against disclosure of personal information and medical records against unauthorized disclosure. HIPPA also gives a patients power over their medical data; they can access it and apply for corrections as needed.
Data protection with HIPAA
The 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is an extensive document that requires training to understand. Healthcare professionals are taken through the training to ensure that they are able to implement it. Trained personnel are able to effectively handle PHI (Protected Health Information), protect its integrity and what to do when there is a breach. Since it is obvious that data privacy is an important aspect of HIPAA, training on the same is emphasized. The Office for Civil Rights enforces HIPAA and will heavily penalize institutions that do not provide it to their employees.
Information is indeed the first line of defense when it comes to enforcing the HIPAA mandate. Under the security rule of this act, various safeguards must be used to further ensure patient data protection.
Apart from privacy, any other rights for patients?
Most definitely because HIPAA exists for the patient:
Access to own medical information – irrespective of the financial obligation of a patient to a health caregiver, they have a right to get copies of their medical records without unnecessary delay. Health care providers who hold on to patient data because of debt are guilty of HIPAA violation. The Office for Civil Rights emphasizes the need to provide this service free of charge but some facilities will charge administrative costs. The data may be sent to a device, person or healthcare provider as directed by a patient.
Correction of mistakes – since patients have access to their records and know their history well, they will easily spot mistakes if present. The patient has a right to request for alterations to records which should be done promptly. Even if a medical expert refutes a change proposed by a patient, they have the right to have that request indicated in their records.
Access to information - HIPAA has laid out strict guidelines as to which people or institutions are allowed to handle patient data. In the event that the law supersedes these restrictions and access is granted to other handlers, the patient has the right to know the individual or institution that was granted access.