The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Health Information Technology for Clinical and Economic Health (HITECH) are the two major regulations that determine how compliance is conducted in the healthcare industry. HITECH has increased the enforcement of HIPAA’s somewhat dated data security provisions. HITECH has also promoted the use of electronic health records by providing funding to healthcare providers through the Office of the National Coordinator at the Dept. of Health & Human Services (HHS), and through Medicare and Medicaid incentives. It is all part of a larger push that was started in 2010, to allow for secure data sharing and privacy protection among providers, insurers, and patients.
The shift from paper-based record keeping to digital records has been happening across all industries, but there has been a real focus and effort in US healthcare to develop a health information technology system that all medical offices can access. From the Rand Corporation in 2009; “After 15 years, the nationwide adoption of electronic medical records and of networking among health care providers could save more than $77 billion each year in terms of efficiency alone.” The savings would come from eliminating losses due to waste and the costs associated with lost or leaked patient information. [Read more…]