Pri­vacy is­sues still a con­cern

Modern Healthcare - - Special Feature -

Read­ers ex­pressed some con­cern, but not in over­whelm­ing num­bers, about sev­eral key changes in health­care in­for­ma­tion pri­vacy laws in­cluded in the Amer­i­can Re­cov­ery and Rein­vest­ment Act of 2009, also called the stim­u­lus law.

Asked whether the new fed­eral ban on the sale of health­care data in the stim­u­lus law would im­pact their or­ga­ni­za­tion, an over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity (88%) re­sponded that it would have no im­pact at all; an­other 10% in­di­cated it would have a pos­i­tive im­pact, while only 2% in­di­cated a neg­a­tive in­flu­ence.

Read­ers re­sponded in much the same way, but to a lesser de­gree, about the pos­si­ble ef­fects of ex­tend­ing pri­vacy and se­cu­rity re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and penal­ties un­der the Health In­sur­ance Porta­bil­ity and Ac­count­abil­ity Act of 1996, or HIPAA, to busi­ness as­so­ci­ates of their or­ga­ni­za­tions. About 53% sug­gested there would be no im­pact, 23% in­di­cated they thought there would be a neg­a­tive im­pact and 24% a pos­i­tive im­pact.

There were split de­ci­sions, how­ever, on the ef­fects of stiffer HIPAA penal­ties and a new, tough na­tional breach no­ti­fi­ca­tion re­quire­ment in the stim­u­lus law.

Nearly half (47%) of re­spon­dents thought there would be no im­pact from stiffer penal­ties, but al­most an equal per­cent­age (43%) es­ti­mate it would have a neg­a­tive ef­fect. An­other 10% say the stiffer penal­ties would be a good thing for their or­ga­ni­za­tions.

Breach no­ti­fi­ca­tion was the only ques­tion of the four in which a plu­ral­ity of re­spon­dents in­di­cated they fore­saw neg­a­tive con­se­quences: 44% vs. the 42% that saw no im­pact and 14% who in­di­cated a pos­i­tive re­sponse.

“It sounds like ev­ery­thing is split down the mid­dle, which I would take to mean that a lot of peo­ple are in pretty good shape, and oth­ers haven’t spent the money yet to do the right thing,” says Deborah Peel, a psy­chi­a­trist and founder of the Austin, Texas-based Pa­tient Pri­vacy Rights Foun­da­tion. “I’m sur­prised there weren’t more neg­a­tives, from the yowl­ing and fear and loathing, that I hear at con­fer­ences.”

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