The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)’s privacy rule
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)’s privacy rule, which is meant to protect the health information of patients from disclosure, has faced problems of unlawful communication of patient’s health information. This is mainly because of lack of clarity on some key issues concerning the privacy rules such as disclosure of patient information to medical researchers or the electronic security of patient information in the hands of organizations which handle patient data management on behalf of healthcare providers, and also because of lack of adequate knowledge on the part of hospital staff regarding understanding of the privacy rule’s guidance and regulations (Steinberg &
Rubin, 2009). In view of this problem, solutions can be chartered forward in order to address the matter.
The points of the law are very clear in the matter of the law but often are difficult to make sure are controlled in a healthcare environment. In the matter of medical records, only the direct provider and those the patient has given permission can see or hear any part of your medical information. This includes a spouse or children. Although it may present a difficult situation, it is against the law to give out this information without express permission from the patient or their designee. Hearing other people talk about patient information is also not acceptable and is difficult in close quarters but must be contained.
Most facilities now depend on computer scheduling but if there is a paper trail, there should be no evidence of names and diagnoses for others to observe. This should not happen anymore with electronic records and scheduling. No paper records, schedules or write boards with full names should be in view of the public where someone may know a person. Also, staff needs to be aware that it is inappropriate to speak about a patient that is known to another person on staff unless they are in their direct care.
Adopting appropriate electronic security practices:
With the advent of the digital e-Health technologies it becomes more easier for patient information to be compromised over the internet therefore Healthcare providers need adopt more stringent electronic security practices that focus on internal and external threats and any of its vulnerabilities, and should ensue effective safety and integrity of patient data as it is being transmitted through the Clinical information systems (Geiger, 2010).
Updates to the privacy rules to take into account research needs:
There are some medical research that may require analysis of disease factors and populations in real tie which necessitates access to very important patient information. Though patients can give their consent this may take time and the researcher may not be able to analyze real time progress of the patient. Access to patient information by researcher has been one of the controversial issues regarding the privacy rule. It is important amendments be made that will not only ensure protection and integrity of patient information but will also provide an enabling environment for researchers to work (Geiger, 2010; Steinberg, Rubin, 2009).
A good plan can be devised to address the problem and cover various issues that are still controversial regarding this problem. For instance the recent proposed updates to the Act in order to protect patient information in the hands of third party organizations such as auditors which handle patient data management on behalf of healthcare providers, is a step towards covering some loopholes in patient information security (Geiger, 2010). Effective strategies and tactics well executed may be able to resolve this problem.
There are many factors that can trigger changing strategies for a healthcare facility in the healthcare industry, such as changing policies by governments, increasing competition, updating new healthcare system, aging equipment, and merger and acquisition by other companies (Scott, 2013). Most people do not like change, especially if things have been working fine for years. If there is a new system or procedure for routine tasks, a healthcare facility should change strategy according to environment. Resistance to change is deeply embedded in our human psyche and health care professionals and organizations are not immune.
In order to conduct a successful change, leaders should make some key steps to facilitate changes and avoid conflicts, such as making planning for change, improving communication, and empowering actions. Leaders should set purpose or direction of changing and make team members to move along in that direction with competence and full commitment. It is important to let employees know the reasons to implement change in the organization. To assist in the change effort, messages must be communicated consistently, concisely, and clearly, as much as possible, to foster the new vision, direction, and strategy (Goh, Chan, & Kuziemsky, 2013). This will also help to avoid conflicts and to be able to rapidly, efficiently, and effectively address conflict when it does arise. The last important step is to empower actions. Leaders can break down hierarchy in the organization and encourage suggestions and feedback from employees.
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