With the advent of the Internet, privacy has become a big concern for many. So much information is out there that it can be hard to know what is floating around in cyberspace about you. With regard to healthcare, privacy is a huge concern and rightfully so. HIPAA (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) was enacted to help ensure that your medical records remain secure and private when being transmitted electronically or on a server. All licensed medical professionals abide by the American Medical Association’s (AMA) Code of Medical Ethics, which emphasizes that patients have a right to privacy, respect, courtesy, and dignity. Doing what is right is a foundational underpin for all a medical professional should do.
That being said, however, there are always the exceptions to the rules and those who don’t abide by any moral code. It remains up to the client to ensure they are being treated in a fair and proper manner. In addition, a patient should not hesitate to report what they feel is a violation of these rights to the appropriate authorities, depending on the violation. This could include the medical board of your state, professional medical societies, or even the police if need arises.
Dr. Lara Dye is a certified CSAT (Certified Sex Addiction Therapist) who specializes in childhood trauma that translates into other areas of one’s life, such as sex addiction, love addiction, and PTSD. She is an advocate for patient confidentiality. In this blog post, we’ll explain steps you can take to ensure your health information is kept confidential.
WHAT IS HIPAA?
HIPAA was enacted to ensure workers who lose their job or change jobs don’t lose health insurance coverage and to help reduce costs of healthcare by standardizing the electronic transmission of administrative and financial transactions. With regard to privacy, this translates to ensuring healthcare records are private and secure in the Cloud, on personal computers and other electronic devices, such as an iPad, and SmartPhones.
HOW TO KEEP YOUR HEALTH RECORDS PRIVATE
Trust between you, the patient, and your healthcare provider is vital in order to receive the best care and make the most informed decisions when it comes to your health. However, the risk of hackers breaking into a medical office’s records is very real. Healthcare facilities are tempting targets as patient’s insurance information (along with all of their other identifying information beyond your social security number) is kept here — ripe for perpetrating identity theft and fraud. Indeed, the data breaches by cyberattacks and ransomware has increased in the healthcare industry and on healthcare providers.
- Ask for details. You have a right to know what measures your healthcare provider is taking to secure your health records and preserve your confidentiality. Ask them if they are HIPAA compliant, what steps they are taking to secure your electronic medical records, and if they employ cloud security. Include other, more mundane details such as password protection on laptops in your questions. Does your healthcare facility enact two factor authorization (which is where two different authentication factors are used for verification purposes or two different methods)? Do they have their own Wi-Fi network separate from others?
- Ask about additional training and/or policies for privacy means. Ultimately, your health records are in the hands of humans who need to understand the importance of confidentiality. Ask if the healthcare staff understands the importance of not revealing any patient information to others, including family members. Ask what are the measures in the office setting as well to protect identity and information, such as not saying last names when you greet others, not revealing why they are being seen or who they are seeing, and not mentioning any unpaid bills or discussing billing matters with others present.
Dr. Lara Dye makes sure all of her patient’s records are held in confidence, and any written records are safely secured under lock and key. Her practice is HIPAA compliant in all aspects. Her offices boast thick walls and doors, enabling anyone walking by not eavesdrop on conversations, even inadvertently. When dealing with any applicable insurance claims, we only provide the information that is legally required. Our computers are all password protected and locked in the offices when no one is present. We encourage forms be filled out electronically in order to help eliminate the written records we are required to keep.
Dr. Lara Dye is passionate about helping others lead their best lives possible through her professional therapy services. No one should be hesitant to seek help because he or she is concerned about a breach in doctor patient confidentiality, or concerned about vicious hackers getting a hold of patient information. Rest assured Dr. Lara Dye does all she can to ensure her patients’ privacy is respected and upheld. If you are in need of a clinical psychologist who can help you with your process addictions, contact her today for a consultation.