How Do HIPAA Privacy Rules Benefit the Healthcare Industry?

Kamran Shafii |

Hospitals, clinics, and doctors have been working to protect the health of their patients for hundreds of years. But in the U.S., it has only been a few decades since those same healthcare facilities and professionals were also required to take measures to protect the privacy and security of their patients.

While the HIPAA Privacy Rule is primarily designed to protect patients, it also has various benefits for the healthcare industry. These range from helping protect them from liability to allowing them to better serve and treat their patients. Keep reading as we dive into a few of the ways that it protects and serves businesses and facilities in the healthcare industry.

Why Does the HIPAA Privacy Rule Exist?

When the HIPAA Privacy Rules were created in 2001, its primary purpose was to create a national standard by which individuals’ medical records and personal health information could be protected. 

Prior to the creation of the HIPAA Privacy Rules, it was up to each individual healthcare provider to take measures to keep their patients’ information from being shared with those not authorized for access. This meant that patients might have a different experience at each facility they visited. For instance, each hospital decided whom they would share patient information with, such as distant family members or friends. One hospital might ask patients who they wanted information shared with, while another might provide it to family members without letting the patient know. Patients would have to contact each individual healthcare outlet individually to find out how their information was being protected or distributed.

After the implementation of the HIPAA Privacy Rules, each of these facilities must now follow the most up-to-date rules about sharing information and what must be done to obtain permission from the patient to share it. This includes not just sharing patient health information with visiting family members but also governs how facilities share information with other healthcare providers or even how they handle a patient’s financial information for billing purposes.

Why Does HIPAA Benefit Patients?

The HIPAA Privacy Rules’ primary purpose is to protect patients. This means that the many guidelines that fall under the rule directly benefit patients.

HIPAA in health care is designed to give patients as much control over their health and personal information as possible. This includes letting patients control how and when their information is shared and with whom. Healthcare providers must take measures to protect the privacy of their patient’s information, including protecting it from cyber attacks, from being shared with unauthorized individuals, or even from sharing the information with other healthcare providers without getting permission or informing the patient.

Another of the benefits of HIPAA for patients is by making it easier for patients to access their information. In most cases, patients have the right to request a copy or to otherwise examine their health records, and to request corrections if they believe that mistakes have been made. This allows patients to have a great level of control over their own health and treatment.

Why Is HIPAA Important for the Healthcare Industry?

The healthcare industry is incredibly complex and expansive. While we often think about HIPAA as it relates to hospitals, it applies to all businesses and entities within the healthcare industry. This includes lab facilities where tests and samples are run, free health clinics, drugstore health clinics, outpatient centers, physical therapy clinics, businesses that handle healthcare data, and more.

HIPAA is so important because it creates an industry standard. Every type of healthcare facility must follow the same guidelines, from labs to clinics to hospitals to offices. Patients can rest assured that their personal and health information is handled properly as it moves from one outlet to the next.

It’s also important because it can protect healthcare facilities and businesses from certain lawsuits, loss of important information, and more.

Benefits of HIPAA for the Healthcare Industry

The benefits of HIPAA for the healthcare industry go beyond protecting the safety and privacy of patients. Following the guidelines can also help to protect individuals, businesses and facilities. This includes allowing them to better serve patients and avoid some liability and lawsuits.

Protection Against PHI Loss

PHI, or Protected Health Information, is a central focus of the HIPAA Privacy Rules. Many of the objectives of HIPAA are designed to safeguard PHI. This doesn’t just benefit the patient but can also help each healthcare facility to fulfill its purpose better.

For example, if PHI is compromised, it could lead to improper care of a patient. This could then result in decisions that hurt the patient, which could have legal consequences for the facility. There is also a cost associated with managing a security breach and losing personal information. Following HIPAA guidelines can help reduce the risk of a breach and help businesses and facilities avoid the cost and reputation damage associated with one.

Development of Patient Safety Culture

Implementing measures to ensure HIPAA compliance can lead to the development of a Patient Safety Culture within the healthcare facility. This means that each member of the staff and employees are working together to protect their patients’ information.

In addition to protecting the patient, this can also help to create a more positive and trusting environment. Patients may be more willing to share information with that facility, which can result in better care and treatment for that patient. This can also lead to patients viewing that facility more positively, resulting in more visits or even recommending the facility to others.

Reduction in Liability

Businesses and facilities in the healthcare industry that follow the HIPAA Privacy Rules properly can protect themselves from lawsuits and liability. By following the guidelines, they reduce the risk of patient information falling into the wrong hands or being compromised, resulting in mistakes in patient care.

This can lead to fewer lawsuits and the costs to fight them. It can also help that healthcare facility uphold its reputation and retain its patient base.

Still Allows for Sharing for Public Health Reasons

While the HIPAA Privacy Rules are largely designed to prevent patient information from being shared with outside entities, it does strike a balance for sharing information regarding public health. This means that facilities in the healthcare industry can share information if it could be used to stop an outbreak or to protect the health of others. This allows the facility to protect its employees, other patients, and the general public without risking breaking HIPAA compliance.

Sets Clear Expectations

Having clear guidelines to follow to stay HIPAA compliant can take some of the guesswork or decision-making out of healthcare facilities’ hands. This removes confusion and the time it would take to create their standards. Whether they’re deciding whether or not to require an e-signature for healthcare forms or determining which other healthcare facilities to share patient information with, the expectations outlined by the HIPAA Privacy Rules are clear.

HIPAA Privacy Rules Benefit the Healthcare Industry

The HIPAA Privacy Rules were created with patient privacy and security in mind. The rules outline how healthcare facilities and businesses must safeguard patient information, how and with whom it can be shared, how it must be protected when stored or sent digitally, and more. It even sets standards for how patients can e-sign digital health records and documents.

If you’re looking for new ways to meet the stringent guidelines of the HIPAA Privacy Rules, jSign can help. Our HIPAA-complaint electronic signature option makes it easy to share health documents with patients and get the signature you need to provide them with proper care. Contact us today to learn more about how jSign can help your healthcare business or facility to better serve your patients.

Kamran Shafii
Manager, SEO Content

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