Moreover third parties often tend to have more access to protected health

Moreover third parties often tend to have more access

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Moreover, third parties often tend to have more access to protected health information (PHI) than patients themselves (Gale, 2016). This concerning imbalance in information accessibility is due to the lack of guidelines for patients to follow to retrieve their records. Unfortunately, this puts patients at a disadvantage when compared to third parties; healthcare providers and insurance companies are capable of accessing such information with relative ease and use it for their personal needs (Versel, 2016). In addition to HIPAA’s obscure guidelines limiting patient access to their personal information, these guidelines or standards can often be quite complex. Due to the complexity of health information management (HIM), HIPAA standards can sometimes be difficult to apply. Therefore, such questionable application has often caused HIM to misinterpret HIPAA rules, which has led to inconsistency in how the rules are applied, and further caused delays of healthcare treatments (Dorward, n.d.). The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is an imperfect law. This policy has been a blueprint for healthcare reform, yet the standards that outline HIPAA often tend to be misinterpreted due to the changing healthcare landscape affecting how they are applied. At twenty-four years old, this policy
12 FINAL PROJECT TWO: HIPAA could use some significant reformation but has the potential to mature and grow stronger, benefitting its stakeholders in the long term. Recommendations One of the major issues with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was the apparent lack of accessibility to protected health information (PHI). Although the policy itself promotes ease of access for patients and/or clients, often, health providers or insurance companies would have more access to a patient’s PHI, therefore putting these stakeholders at a clear disadvantage. To resolve this issue, the HIPAA guidelines require significant updates that will enable patients to regain accessibility. Such updates would serve as a clarification for patients who may have wanted to access their health information, but may have faced limitations (e.g. lack of tools or information from their providers). Furthermore, prohibiting doctors from requiring the use of regular mail and the physical presence of patients may reduce the time it takes to receive the requested medical records (HIPAA Guidelines, 2016). HIPAA’s guidelines have received scrutiny and confusion due to its complexity. Provider misunderstanding has caused inconsistency in how the rules are applied, thus leading to limited patient accessibility and delays in healthcare treatment. To combat this issue providers need more guidance, informing them of their rights and obligations. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) should work with professional societies who have more direct contact with physician members, rather than simply posting HIPAA documents and/or updates on its website (Pittman, 2013).

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