Healthcare providers are obliged to comply with HIPAA requirements regarding the privacy rights granted to patients.
- Patients have the right to view their medical records and also ask for a written notice regarding how their health information is used and shared.
- They can ask for a copy of their file and request that mistakes identified be corrected.
- While healthcare providers may charge reasonable fees to compensate expenses involved in making copies requested by the patient, they have to produce the documents requested within 30 days of receiving the request, in most cases. Healthcare providers can use HIPAA compliant external services to produce the copies on their behalf.
- Patients have to be notified if there has been a leak in their personal data.
- Mental healthcare providers are exempted from the requirement to reveal patient information.
- Certain exemptions to these rules exist – in limited circumstances some medical information may be shared without the patient’s knowledge. These include diagnoses, diagnostic images, lab tests and other medical data purely for treatment purpose. Information can be shared to consult with other physicians to assist in the treatment of a patient or to refer the patient to a specialist.
How Safe Is Patient Information with EMR Systems?
Advanced EMR systems employ data encryption to safeguard patient medical records. This encryption technology protects the records during storage and transfer, making sure that only the people intended can view them. In addition to encryption, firewalls installed on healthcare computer systems and networks help to prevent any kind of unauthorized access. Healthcare providers can also perform HIPAA data security audits of their systems regularly to ensure that their systems are secure. Another means of securing PHI is by having electronic auditing systems whereby users have to identify themselves as well as the specific records that are being accessed by them.
It is the onus of healthcare providers to have solid measures in place to protect patient information and remain compliant. This will help to avoid heavy penalties that may result from accidental disclosure of healthcare data.