Many doctors, chiropractors, dentists and other entities covered under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 view the Privacy Rule as being a nuisance. Sure, it provides privacy rights to patients, but it also forces medial/healthcare practices to invest time, money and resources into following the rules set forth. But there's a good reason why the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) created the Privacy Rule, which we're going to discuss further in this blog post.
Provides Patients With Greater Control Over Their Information
One purpose of HIPAA's Privacy Rule is to provide patients with greater control over their healthcare information. Patients are given full control over who's allowed to access and view their Protected Health Information (PHI) and who's not. If a patient wants a family member or friend to view their records, they'll have to sign a privacy authorization form, granting this individual permission.
Holds Violators Accountable
Another reason the Privacy Rule was created is because it holds HIPAA violators responsible for their actions. While most violations are civil and involve nothing more than a fine, there are cases in which the offending entity has been charged criminally. These are few and far between, however, but they do occur nonetheless. This is why it's critical that all healthcare organizations and covered entities follow HIPAA's Rules and the guidelines within.
Creates Safeguards To Protect Patient Information
Of course, HIPAA's Privacy Rule also establishes safeguards to protect sensitive patient information. As we've mentioned previously on our blog, the Security Rule only affects Electronic Protected Health Information, meaning paper and verbal PHI are left unnoticed. The Privacy Rule, on the other hand, affects ALL forms of PHI, including digital, paper and electronic. Covered entities must abide by the guidelines set forth in the Privacy Rule to ensure their patients' and customers' health information is protected.
Transparency With Patients
The HIPAA Privacy Rule creates greater transparency with patients regarding when and how their health information may be used. Covered entities are required by law to present patients with a document revealing exactly how their information will be used. If a patient is unsure who's going to be seeing their medical records, he or she can refer to this document for an explanation. This is one of the many elements associated with the HIPAA Privacy Rule, and it's critical to protecting the privacy and security of patients' PHI.