Protected health information (PHI) is a term used to refer to patients’ data that entities covered by HIPAA receive, store, or transmit to other healthcare providers and it revolves around the need of such entities to ensure the privacy, security, and confidentiality of patients’ health information. Under HIPAA guidelines, PHI provides a link between the past, present, and future of a patient’s condition by providing information related to an individual’s medical records. PHI also includes aspects such as demographic data, insurance coverage, and laboratory results that health professionals use to identify a particular patient.
Essentials of HIPAA Information
HIPAA information has numerous essentials both for healthcare organizations and for patients. HIPAA legislation acts by safeguarding the safety of patients by securing their personal health information. HIPAA provides employees with health insurance coverages and reduces medical costs by standardizing financial transactions and electronic data transmission (Edemekong et al., 2020). HIPAA has also introduced several benefits for healthcare organizations to help with the adoption of electronic copies from paper records. The adoption of electronic copies has helped healthcare organizations to improve the efficiency of workflow and streamline their functions.
Privacy, Security, and Confidentiality
Three important and related concepts are often used interchangeably in discussing the protection of patients’ health information within the United States health system: privacy, security, and confidentiality. The concept of confidentiality refers to the responsibility that health professionals hold not to disclose patients’ health information to other parties. The concept of privacy refers to the right of the patient to make decisions on how his or her health information is to be used or shared (Watzlaf et al., 2017). The concept of security refers to the means a healthcare organization adopts to protect the privacy of patients’ health information and support health professionals to hold such information in confidence. HIPAA in its provisions states that patients’ electronic health information should only be disclosed or shared when the patient has signed a consent form. However, under various circumstances, patients’ information can be disclosed without a patient’s consent, including compensation processes and health oversight activities.
The importance of interdisciplinary collaboration in safeguarding patients’ electronic health records is that it helps to protect the information from outside threats. Cyber-attacks are largely becoming a threat to the United States healthcare system. Therefore, the collaboration between health professionals and information technology experts can help to curb the growing threat in the country’s healthcare system.
Inappropriate Social Media Usage in the United States
Many nurses across the United States have had their practice license terminated for engaging in inappropriate social media usage that may have violated patients’ privacy, security, and confidentiality. An incident that demonstrates inappropriate social media usage in the country is a situation involving a given nurse at Glendale Adventist Medical Center. The nurse accessed a patient’s health records without legitimate reasons. This led to the nurse’s practice license being terminated and heftily fined for violating the HIPAA act. Such a case calls for interprofessional team members to be aware that patients’ privacy is vital in the healthcare system.
Sanctions and Consequences
Several sanctions and consequences exist for medical personnel who may have been found guilty of violating a patient’s privacy, security, and confidentiality by engaging in inappropriate social media usage. Some of the consequences include a medical professional having his or her practice license being terminated and fined heftily. Under HIPAA guidelines, medical personnel should only share a patient’s health information through the right media channels, but only when the patient has signed a consent form.
Financial Penalties for Violating PHI
HIPAA provides heavy financial penalties to medical personnel who may have violated patients’ health information. Medical personnel who may have violated PHI are fined between $100 and $50,000 (Edemekong et al., 2020). The penalties for noncompliance are based on the level of a health professional’s negligence.
Evidence-Based Strategies to Prevent Security Breaches
According to HIPAA guidelines, every healthcare organization across the United States must recruit a privacy officer who is tasked with ensuring that the Act’s provisions are fulfilled by a particular health firm. The privacy officer is tasked with ensuring that a healthcare organization’s employees are well trained on how to ensure patients’ confidentiality and security and that the HIPAA standards are implemented (Agris & Spandorfer, 2016). HIPAA relies on such approaches to help prevent security breaches in the United States healthcare system.
Agris, J. L., & Spandorfer, J. M. (2016). HIPAA compliance and training: A perfect storm for professionalism education? The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 44(4), 652-656. https://doi.org/10.1177/1073110516684812
Edemekong, P., Annamaraju, P., & Haydel, M. (2020). Health insurance portability and accountability act (HIPAA). StatPearls. https://www.statpearls.com/sp/np/195/22897/
Watzlaf, V. J., Zhou, L., DeAlmeida, D. R., & Hartman, L. M. (2017). A systematic review of research studies examining telehealth privacy and security practices used by healthcare providers. International Journal of Telerehabilitation, 9(2), 39. https://doi.org/10.5195/ijt.2017.6231