A variety of factors may determine the quality of care offered to patients of radiology units and other hospital departments. However, despite the intentions of personnel and available resources, the necessity to meet the law and follow the established regulations cannot be ignored. In 1996, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was signed to control health insurance coverage among Americans, reduce the number of frauds, and protect personal information.
Despite good intentions to protect patients and keep their data private, HIPAA enhances the imbalance between what can and cannot be released, which results in unnecessary repeated diagnostic tests and the delay of care. In this paper, the evaluation of HIPAA concerning patient care will be developed to clarify why the regulations to improve the quality of care remain ambiguous today.
When HIPAA was introduced to American society for the first time, millions of people accepted this rule as an excellent opportunity to control their health information, protect their lives, and define penalties if something goes wrong. According to Berwick and Gaines (2018), HIPAA’s primary intention was to support the portability of care in terms of which health insurance coverage may be continued even if people change their jobs.
Electronic transactions help healthcare businesses to save money and time and promote fast data exchange (Dutton & Ryan, 2019). With time, several steps to ensure patient safety were made, and the HIPAA Privacy Rule was introduced to make sure healthcare and medical workers did not share patient information without permission. Therefore, such concepts as the misuse or disclosure of patient health information have to be regulated by law. Specific safeguards to protect privacy cannot be neglected, and patients obtain enough rights over their data and personal space in healthcare settings.
Worth of Patient Care
Nowadays, the quality of healthcare service delivery is predetermined by different aspects, including the economic situation in the country. As soon as the cost of care was raised, the delivery system underwent considerable changes, introducing new methods like Medicare and Medicaid (Dutton & Ryan, 2019). Healthcare employees must collect patient data carefully to understand what kind of help should be offered. Assessment of findings, the identification of clinical problems, interpersonal communication, and education of patients become an integral part of patient care (“Guideline at a glance,” 2017).
The way of how health status is controlled through collection and monitoring influences the outcomes of care and treatment that are offered to patients and their families. Access to patient health information is an obligatory step, and HIPAA is a method to ensure security and privacy. Therefore, the relationship between HIPAA and patient care is evident. Still, along with expected benefits and sustainability, the impact of HIPAA may lead to some misunderstandings.
Pros and Cons of HIPAA in Patient Care
On the one hand, there are many positive achievements that can be observed in managing patient information. Healthcare personnel promote safe clinical documentation and address past and present patient histories to choose the right direction of patient care (Fencl, 2016). Electronic health records are easy to access and use, which fastens the delivery of services, enhances the correctness of a diagnosis, and encourages appropriate treatment plans.
On the other hand, complex and voluminous regulations of HIPAA challenge patient care and question its correctness. In many cases, families and other stakeholders are not able to obtain the required information about patients. As a result, a person may undergo unnecessary diagnostic and laboratory tests that delay obligatory care and worsen the general condition. Hospital workers have to make fast and critical decisions to protect their patients, as well as to respect family values and think about the consequences. In fact, the list of concerns is long, and additional research may be needed to understand how to improve care quality without breaking the HIPAA Privacy Rule.
In general, American society expects the best care services and options in their hospitals and other healthcare facilities. The government aims at regulating medical decisions and people’s activities by introducing specific acts and policies. The creation of HIPAA is an example of how legally approved steps may improve and challenge the quality of care. Such an ambiguous nature of the HIPAA – care relationships provokes multiple discussions and debates and proves the necessity to continue improvements in regard to medical staff experiences and patients’ knowledge and expectations.
Berwick, D. M., & Gaines, M. E. (2018). How HIPAA harms care, and how to stop it. JAMA, 320(3), 229-230. Web.
Dutton, A., & Ryan, T. A. (2019). Torres’ patient care in imaging technology (9th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer.
Fencl, J. L. (2016). Guideline implementation: Patient information management. AORN Journal, 104(6), 566-577. Web.
Guideline at a glance: Information management. (2017). AORN Journal, 106(3), 272-274. Web.