HIPAA went into effect when?
HIPAA, formally known as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability act, was signed into legislation back in the 90's. These regulations were enacted as a multi-tiered approach that set out to improve the health insurance system. Originally passed in 1996, HIPAA was designed to primarily modernize the workflow of health information. Even though most medical records were in a paper medium at that time, it was evident that health data was transitioning into a digital age. Enacting this new regulation was no easy feat though. Here are a few interesting facts:
- Prior to 1996, there was nothing regulating the privacy of health information even though the majority of other nations had been broadly and uniformly enacting personal privacy for quite a few years already.
- The United States Congress had many privacy regulations protecting fields such as school records, driver license records and even video rental records but nothing pertaining to the privacy of personal health information.
- With HIPAA enacted, naturally privacy was a major concern, so Congress punted to the HHS (Department of Health and Human Services) to deem a privacy regulation that was completed in 2000.
Why does HIPAA matter? Well, all healthcare entities and organizations that use, store, maintain or transmit patient health information are expected to be in complete compliance with the regulations of the HIPAA law. When completely adhered to, HIPAA regulations not only ensure privacy, reduce fraudulent activity and improve data systems but are estimated to save providers billions of dollars annually. By knowing of and preventing security risks that could result in major compliance costs, organizations are able to focus on growing their profits instead of fearing these potential audit fines.
HIPAA legislation is ever-evolving and although it may seem complicated and tedious, it is imperative that everyone is in compliance. HIPAA has many parts to it, including many rules like the HIPAA Privacy Rule and HIPAA Security Rule. Just as one must be aware of every minute part of these HIPAA directives, one must be prepared for change. With Healthcare Reform and other disruptive movements, the industry is in need of flexibility. Keep an open mind when tackling healthcare because nothing is set in stone, nor will it ever be.
Despite the complexity of our healthcare system, everyone can make an impact. By being an educated healthcare consumer, the industry is one step closer to moving from a volume-based care model to one that is purely value-based. It is time to understand healthcare, analyze behaviors and determine solutions. Why now? Because there's no better time than now.
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