Understanding the Significance of Data Privacy in Healthcare

Oct 24, 2019 | Tips and Best Practices

In recent years, data privacy has become a greater concern for organizations in every industry, especially healthcare. Healthcare organizations must ensure proper handling of patient data not only to meet strict data privacy regulations and laws, but also because it’s crucial to build a culture of trust and transparency with patients.

Data privacy in healthcare is ever-evolving, with laws and regulations being continually updated so that patients receive the privacy they expect and deserve. In this blog, you’ll learn about some of the most significant data privacy regulations that apply to the healthcare industry, why they’re important, and some of the steps your organization can take to bring patient data privacy to the next level.

Regulations affecting data privacy in healthcare

Data privacy laws have been enacted and updated in the United States and beyond in recent years, setting a higher standard for data privacy in all industries. In the healthcare industry, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is the most notable.

Enacted in 1996, HIPAA specifies data privacy and security requirements for protecting protected health information, or PHI. Companies that handle PHI, including treatment providers, business associates, and relevant subcontractors must all have security measures in place to ensure HIPAA compliance.

HIPAA is continually updated and revised to stay ahead of potential data privacy threats, and healthcare organizations must stay up-to-date in order to comply. To learn more about HIPAA compliance and what you should look for in a HIPAA compliant data collection vendor, check out our HIPAA Compliance Checklist.

The importance of data privacy in healthcare

With data breaches and cyber attacks becoming more common in the digital age, patients’ data is more at risk than ever before. Because of this, the highest standard of data privacy in healthcare is crucial. Without HIPAA compliance, not only are your patients at risk of data breach, but your organization is also at risk of facing major fines and criminal charges in the event of a violation. These are some of the fines that have been issued for HIPAA violations within recent years:

  • Advocate Health Care Network: $5.55 million fine for unauthorized disclosure of nearly 4 million health records due to theft
  • The Feinstein Institute: $3.9 million fine because a laptop containing unprotected PHI of 13,000 research participants was stolen
  • CardioNet: $2.5 million fine after misunderstanding of HIPAA requirements resulted in a potential breach

To protect your patients’ protected health information effectively and avoid fines, it’s crucial to stay in the know with HIPAA updates and maintain security through every aspect of your organization.

Best practices for healthcare data privacy

HIPAA regulations and data privacy breach risks may seem overwhelming, but there are plenty of best practices and tools you can use to ensure compliance. Make sure your organization follows these steps to keep your patients and your organization safe:

  • Use admin controls to ensure your data stays in the right hands
  • Train employees who handle PHI on data privacy measures
  • Develop a response plan in case of a breach
  • Make sure your vendors and data collection tools are secure and HIPAA compliant
  • Encrypt data for further security
  • Never leave PHI unattended

By using a secure data collection platform like FormAssembly, your organization will be able to easily and effectively process PHI. FormAssembly’s Compliance Cloud offers encryption at rest and is HIPAA compliant, helping hundreds of healthcare organizations streamline PHI processing. Are you ready to simplify data collection and ramp up data privacy within your healthcare organization?

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