Portability in HIPAA

By Art Gross, President and CEO, HIPAA Secure Now!
Twitter: @HIPAASecureNow
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There are many aspects of HIPAA. And sometimes there isn’t a clear understanding of what it covers. We also find that it is the “P” that often trips people up. Because of the strong emphasis on confidentiality, security, and safe handling of information, there is an assumption that the word Privacy is part of the title. However, we’re talking about Portability. And what exactly does that mean?

Established in 1996 to put guidelines around patient data, HIPAA is an acronym for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. It regulates how patient information or protected health information (PHI) is transferred among covered entities and business associates in the healthcare industry. Standards are established for the healthcare industry for electronic billing and other activities that involve patient data. This is applicable not only when there is a change of employment, but also when sharing data. Those changes in an individual’s situation are when portability comes into play.

What is Portability?

Portability is one of the foundations from which HIPAA was created. Creating a streamlined flow of all the parties involved in patient care was necessary. This allows for effective communication and overall quality of care to be delivered.

Does it matter in which manner or format the information is shared? HIPAA regulations apply to all types of PHI, including electronic, oral, paper, or any others. And it applies to any bit of information, from a single record to an entire file. This connectedness is the Portability that HIPAA was designed to address. Better portability means better collaborative care for the patient and the healthcare industry.

What About Privacy?

Privacy is still critical when it comes to HIPAA. The HIPAA Privacy Rule establishes measures and guidelines, and those will continue to evolve. Within this rule, the standards for PHI and medical records are defined. Especially with the constant threat of cybercrime. Any patient data that is inadvertently leaked can lead to not only HIPAA violations but also a data breach.

This article was originally published on HIPAA Secure Now! and is republished here with permission.