Patient Education: What Patients Need to Know About the HIPAA Act

In today’s modern Digital Era, data and information are at a lower risk than before. While storing your patient’s data in a software system is convenient, there are things to consider. 

The truth is, the government recognizes that millions of health records are still breached every single year. For that reason, your medical practice needs to ensure it takes every precaution to protect the sensitive information of your patients. 

After all, that was the original intention of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA) Act. The HIPAA Act protects your patients and the liability of your medical office. 

It’s true that there are a lot of ins and outs to navigate when it comes to HIPAA compliance. For one thing, you need to know exactly what you can and should tell your patients about it. The good news, then, is you’ve come to the right place with this article. 

First, You Need a Basic Understanding of the HIPAA Act

For hundreds of years, medical care was mostly provided to families through a private doctor. In other words, you needed money to hire a doctor to care for you. This kept treatment and medical practice internal, so families knew their information was protected.

These days, though, all you need is a full-time job to have access to healthcare throughout the United States. As medical care became more and more public, the issue of information security became a concern. 

That’s why, in 1996, the government introduced the HIPPA Act. For that reason, doctors and medical practitioners are now held by law to keep secrecy regarding their patients. 

This is great news for patients who don’t want their test results to reach their employers, for example. Plus, families can make their own decisions again regarding the privacy of their treatment and conditions. For more detailed specifics, check out this article on the history of the HIPAA Act.

Tell Your Patient That HIPAA Compliance Is Enforced by the Government

When your patients start to ask for details about HIPAA, one of the first things to consider is how their information is protected. They deserve to know how the government will be enforcing their privacy at all times. 

For that reason, feel free to be open and honest with them about how your medical practice prioritizes their privacy. Taking them step-by-step through your policies of storage and management of patient data might help. That way, they can have a direct understanding of where their personal information is stored.

After all, keeping their information secure is one of your biggest priorities. Plus, let them know that if you fail to do so, the government will take disciplinary action. In fact, don’t be afraid to tell them that they can file a complaint if they’re concerned their information has been unprotected.

Consider the following statistic. In a single year, 65 complaints were submitted against the HIPAA Act.

Ensure your patients that it’s true they have a right to pursue a complaint if they’re concerned. At the same time, though, your medical practice has no intention of violating HIPAA compliance laws. 

By informing them of their rights as a patient, you’re proving that you have their best interests at heart. Doing so will go a long way in establishing loyalty to your medical practice. That patient loyalty, in the long run, is going to be an invaluable asset. 

Patients Should Always Be Given a Copy of Your Practice’s Privacy Policy

Since HIPAA is such a crucial part of any medical practice, you have developed a specific privacy policy for each patient. For that reason, handing out a copy of that policy to each patient is in your best interest.

For one thing, it might answer any privacy questions they may have ahead of time. For another thing, you’re again ensuring your patients that you prioritize their information security every time they visit. As patients turn in their registration paperwork, take the time to give them a copy of their rights as patients. 

Not All Parents Have Access to Their Children’s Medical Information

Sometimes, parents might have questions about HIPAA when it comes to their children. It’s important to be honest about your limitations when it comes to sharing this information.

For example, consider the case of a teenager’s pregnancy or sexually transmitted infection. In these situations, the HIPAA regulations actually protect the minor’s rights over the parents’.

As much as a parent might want to know the results of some of these tests, don’t give in. Ensure to these parents that you’re actually following HIPAA laws by not sharing that information. Even if they complain to the Office of Civil Rights, your medical practice will be protected. 

They Have Access to Their Medical Information Whenever They Want

The last thing to inform patients about HIPAA is that the medical information you have is theirs. For that reason, whenever they request it, they have legal access to their medical data as patients. It’s up to them, too, to specify what other family members, if any, have access to this data as well. 

Ensure Your Medical Practice Is Compliant According to the HIPAA Act

At this point in the article, you have a thorough understanding of what you can and should tell your patients regarding the HIPAA Act. Remember, though, that it’s your responsibility to ensure everything is truly compliant behind the scenes. 

After all, your patients deserve the peace of mind that comes from knowing their sensitive data is protected. If you want to establish your medical practice as a reliable one, you’ll take this seriously. Otherwise, you risk losing patients and, therefore, profits. 

In fact, that’s where we can come into play. We understand the value of the HIPAA Act for both your patients and your medical practice. We want to ensure that everyone feels secure and trusted when seeking medical advice. 

For that reason, we prioritize bringing our clients the latest and greatest solution for HIPAA compliance. We offer top-quality software systems that maintain and manage your patients’ data in a secure manner. That’s why we encourage you to check out more information about our HIPAA Compliance Services on our website today.