Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act Privacy Rule

What Does Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act Privacy Rule Mean?

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:

  • Mental health
  • Substance abuse
  • Alcohol abuse

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.

Techopedia Explains Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act Privacy Rule

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.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…