Prior to 1996, medical information and records were used exclusively at the discretion of the healthcare professionals that wrote them. Although medical records have been considered private information, it was left up to individual entities to protect the information in whatever method they deemed appropriate. On the same token, the medical records were kept a secret from the patient and information was revealed to the patient by healthcare practitioners as they saw necessary.
In 1996, under the Clinton administration, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was enacted that, among other things, changed the way medical records were handled and who had access to them. In today’s post, we will give you insight on a few major things HIPAA provisioned for you and your medical records and what it means for you.
At Touchstone Imaging, all of our patients’ medical records are safeguarded with the utmost regard to privacy and dignity. On the same token, we are completely transparent, making medical records readily available to patients and their treating healthcare providers. We take our duty to protect and provide access to your information seriously because we believe that your medical record is just that — yours.
Defined privacy and enacted consequences for violating privacy.
One of the most important things HIPAA did for patients was establishing what privacy means and exactly how medical records and information should be safeguarded. To take it one step further, it listed out specific consequences for violating patient privacy and sharing patient information. This includes negligently letting medical information or records get to hands that have no business to it. This helps keep your medical records private by restricting who has access to it and ensuring your medical providers are held accountable, should they share your information without your permission.
Gave you the right to access your own medical information.
Another important thing HIPAA did for patients was to allow them access to their own medical information. There is not a single part of your medical record that can be kept from you and you have the right to view your records at any time. Additionally, medical providers have to provide you with a copy of your medical record for you to keep at your request. This can be by way of making hard copies of your records, but as the world becomes more digital, many providers offer immediate access to your digital medical records. What this means for you is that your medical information is completely yours.
Allowed you to decide who gets to view your medical records.
Not only does HIPAA allow you access to your own information and protection against unnecessary requests for access, but HIPAA also gives you the power to decide who gets to see your medical records. Although healthcare providers responsible for your care need to know basis about current medical care, this does not mean that there is a free for all of the access to your medical information.. You can choose who gets to see what information by way or medical releases and authorizations. Some information, behavioral health notes, for instance, can be kept private from anyone who does not work in that field or have a direct need to view that information. Additionally, when lawyers or insurance agencies require medical billing information, the information they are privy to can be limited to what they need without your test results or progress notes being included.
At Touchstone Imaging, we follow the HIPAA policy as though we were safeguarding our own medical records. We practice transparency with our patients and don’t keep any information from you. For any questions about your medical records or to schedule your confidential appointment, visit us online to find a location near you and then contact us to schedule your appointment.