Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

by Rhonda Lawes, PhD, RN

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    00:01 Welcome back, future informaticists! In this session, we'll be exploring an important aspect of healthcare informatics: the standards and guidelines.

    00:10 These standards serve as a compass, guiding us to ensure the privacy, security, and interoperability of healthcare data.

    00:18 So, let's dive right in! Our first standard is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, commonly known as HIPAA.

    00:27 According to the official HIPAA website, "HIPAA is a federal law that was enacted in 1996 and is designed to protect the privacy and security of patient’s health information." HIPAA applies to all healthcare providers, including doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, respiratory therapists. It applies to everyone, including healthcare informaticists, like for example, nurses, who work specifically with electronic health records and other health information technology systems.

    00:58 So, imagine you're at a party, and someone starts sharing their friend's health information. It feels wrong, right? Well, that's exactly what the HIPAA Privacy Rule aims to prevent.

    01:08 It safeguards the patient's health information, which we call Protected Health Information or PHI.

    01:17 PHI includes all sorts of identifiable information, from a patient's name and date of birth to their medical condition and treatment details.

    01:26 So, is it necessary for you to know every word in HIPAA? No, not really, but you are accountable to adequate understanding of the logic behind the privacy and security rules.

    01:38 Now, let's put this into practice.

    01:40 Because here are some practical examples of how we can uphold the Privacy Rule as individuals. Number one: Share patient information only with team members directly involved with their care. For example, if you're a nurse working with a patient who has diabetes, you'd share relevant information with the dietitian planning their meals, but not with a physical therapist working with a different patient.

    02:03 Second one: Do not access patient information unless it is necessary for your job.

    02:07 Number three: Do not use patient information for personal gain: A nurse or physician should not look up a celebrity’s medical records just because they are curious.

    02:19 Now, number four: If you accidentally come across a record that doesn't concern you, you need to report it. It's essential to maintain transparency and trust within our workplace, so go to human resources and let them know there's been an accidental breach in confidentiality.

    02:37 Number five: Discuss patient information only in secure, private areas at work.

    02:42 Never talk about a patient's condition or treatment in public spaces like elevators or cafeterias.

    02:49 Now, let's talk about the HIPAA Security Rule.

    02:55 In today's digital age, a lot of our patient information is stored electronically.

    02:59 The Security Rule ensures this electronic PHI, or ePHI, is well protected.

    03:03 Here's how we can implement this rule in our day-to-day: Never share your password.

    03:09 Your login credentials are your responsibility.

    03:11 If someone accesses ePHI using your account, it could lead to a breach.

    03:17 Always log off when you leave, and if you notice a coworker has left their computer unattended, log them off too.

    03:23 It's a simple step that can prevent unauthorized access.

    03:28 Avoid taking information home and always destroy report sheets using a secure shredder.

    03:33 Old file records should be kept in a locked file cabinet.

    03:37 Respect patients' rights to their information.

    03:40 Patients can request a copy of their healthcare records.

    03:42 However, we cannot share this information with anyone — even family or friends — without the patient's permission.

    03:50 Lastly, report any breach of confidentiality.

    03:54 If you suspect a breach has occurred, report it immediately to your supervisor or the appropriate authority.

    03:59 Informatics professionals have an even more comprehensive role with protecting patient information.

    04:06 First, access control: Implement strict access controls to limit data access only to authorized personnel.

    04:14 This includes unique user accounts, strong passwords, two-factor authentication, and regular access reviews to revoke access when necessary.

    04:23 Data Encryption: Encrypt sensitive data both in transit and at rest.

    04:28 Utilize encryption protocols such as SSL/TLS for network communications and robust encryption algorithms to secure stored data, such as AES.

    04:39 Secure Network Infrastructure: Implement strong network security measures, including firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems, and virtual private networks to protect data from unauthorized access and external threats.

    04:53 Conduct regular security audits and risk assessments to identify vulnerabilities and address them promptly.

    04:59 This helps ensure compliance with HIPAA regulations and proactively prevent potential security breaches.

    05:05 Provide comprehensive training to employees regarding HIPAA regulations, data handling practices, and security protocols.

    05:13 Educate them on the importance of protecting patient information, how to identify and report security incidents, and the proper use of technology tools.

    05:21 When transmitting patient data, use secure communication channels such as encrypted email, secure file transfer protocols, or secure messaging platforms because you want to prevent unauthorized interception or access.

    05:35 Develop robust disaster recovery plans and implement regular data backups.

    05:40 This ensures that in the event of a security incident or system failure, data can be restored quickly and effectively, minimizing downtime and potential data loss.

    05:49 Safeguard physical access to data storage areas, servers, and other hardware.

    05:55 Implement physical security measures such as restricted access controls, surveillance systems, and environmental controls – like temperature and humidity monitoring.

    06:04 These will all help prevent unauthorized physical access and protect against environmental hazards.

    06:10 Establish an incident response plan that outlines the steps to be taken in the event of a security breach or incident.

    06:17 This includes incident identification, containment, eradication, recovery procedures, as well as proper documentation and reporting processes.

    06:26 If you work with third-party vendors or service providers, ensure they also comply with HIPAA regulations and have appropriate security measures in place.

    06:36 Regularly review their security practices and agreements to ensure they meet the necessary standards. Protecting HIPAA requires a multi-layered approach involving both technical and administrative controls.

    06:48 It's important to stay informed about the latest security practices and regulations so you can effectively protect patient data and maintain compliance.

    06:57 Remember, as healthcare personnel, we're not just handling data; we're handling people's lives and privacy.

    07:03 Respecting and protecting our patients' information isn't just about following the law, it's about upholding our ethical responsibility.

    07:11 So, let's always keep these guidelines in mind as we go about our work and interact with our patients.

    About the Lecture

    The lecture Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) by Rhonda Lawes, PhD, RN is from the course Healthcare Informatics.

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. Implementing two-factor authentication.
    2. Using short and memorable passwords.
    3. Discreetly discussing patient information in public areas.
    4. Taking patient information home for convenience.
    5. Only sharing login credentials with a trusted colleague.
    1. Report it to human resources as a breach of confidentiality.
    2. Delete the record to avoid further misuse.
    3. Share the information with a team member for verification.
    4. Ignore the incident since it was accidental.
    5. Inform colleagues about the mistake.

    Author of lecture Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

     Rhonda Lawes, PhD, RN

    Rhonda Lawes, PhD, RN

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