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The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act Privacy Rule (HIPAA Privacy Rule) is a law designed to protect patients’ sensitive electronic medical information as it relates to the following types of treatment:
While the use of electronic medical records (EMR) has exploded since Medicaid/Medicare health providers were required to implement them in order to receive government incentive payments, legislators and privacy advocacy groups have helped implement laws governing EMR patient confidentiality. The HIPAA Privacy Rule has been enacted to do just that.
The HIPAA privacy rule has been an imperative piece of legislation as technology for EMRs moves forward. Patients want a say in who will be viewing their records and they can do so if they complete an automated consent to release information form. This involves electronic signatures and the ability for the patient to peruse their online records. A patient may even permit an outside facility to have total access to one type of EMR, but none or partial access to another.
This process of data security involves computing techniques and database management by capable IT management. While privacy advocates realize the time and effort that goes into this, they are concerned not only about their patients' confidentiality issues when it comes to EMRs, but also about the health care provider-caregiver relationship. This is due in part to the fact that if a patient is concerned about sensitive health records, they may opt to be less forthcoming about their medical issues.
The HIPAA privacy rule has made it mandatory for caregivers to take this especially seriously because under this law, they can be fined $500 for a first offense of data breaches and $5,000 for each offense thereafter.