HHS: HIPAA Limitations as Technology Advances

When it comes to electronic medical and personal information, data security continues to be a high priority of all entities within the health care industry. Ensuring that records remain intact and that security breeches are a low risk is the goal of everyone from payers to providers.

First enacted in 1996, HIPAA has provided guidelines on patient privacy and data security. The legislation addresses who must comply with the law, privacy rights and identifies electronic standards for transmitting health data.

Although HIPAA has been seemingly sufficient thus far, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has sent a report to Congress identifying the need for guidelines that will encompass newer technologies. Americans are increasingly using mobile health apps and telemedicine, in addition to using social networks and fitness trackers to monitor their medical wellness.

“Wearable fitness trackers, health social media and mobile health apps are premised on the idea of consumer engagement,” HHS said in their report. “However, our laws and regulations have not kept pace with these new technologies.”

The gaps in HIPAA’s guidelines call for new policies that can evaluate new technologies and develop ways to keep information private and secure. Data breeches are always a risk, but preparing for it and having the necessary protections in place are essential.

For more information on HHS’ report to Congress, click here.

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