Communication technology is continuously developing, and although this news is supposed to be a good thing, it has created new problems in the healthcare industry.
What Is HIPAA?
HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. It is basically a bill that is meant to protect patients’ private data. A person’s medical record is not supposed to be accessible to an irrelevant third party. And this protection has faced many challenges since the dawn of cellphones because those devices were designed to make communication clear and fast after all.
What Are the Compliant Apps?
In today’s age of smartphones, many messaging platforms are available to us. iMessage, Whatsapp, Skype, Telegrams, and Line are all on the market, promising an encrypted transmission to the users. But surprisingly, none of them is HIPAA compliant.
According to Telehealth.org, iMessage is not a HIPAA compliant texting application. It stores cached files that can be open to a third party, who can be either a hacker or the Apple company itself. If you have ever trusted other platforms, please do remember that a Titan as big as Facebook went to trial in April for breaching the data of millions of its users.
What Is the Significance for Patients?
Everyone who gets their healthcare in the US must be aware of HIPAA because it is the protection of privacy rights endorsed by the government. It is a common mistake not to learn about your rights as a patient because your medical records are more important than you think. It is not only a matter of being ethical but also a matter of securing your identity.
First, if your records are leaked, the least bad scenario will be you becoming a target of marketing without your consent. Second, your medical records can be used to blackmail you, especially if you have ever got treatment for a heavily-stigmatized disease. Therefore, the next time you pick a clinic, you must pay careful attention to the way the workers there communicate. If you notice one of them is talking about you by using a non-HIPAA compliant means, you have to report the case to the authority immediately. Not only will you save yourself, but you will also prevent other violations in the future.
What Is the Significance for Health Professionals?
If you work in the health industry, you must have been well-informed about this issue already, and by then we are happy that we’ve been a reminder to you. Patients’ consents must be your top priority. And if you share a seemingly harmless piece of information through Snapchat or Whatsapp about your patient, now you know why it is against HIPAA.