Protected Health Information: Privacy, Security, and Confidentiality Best Practices

Protected Health Information: Privacy, Security, and Confidentiality Best Practices

Protected Health Information: Privacy, Security, and Confidentiality Best Practices

Protected health information (PHI) refers to the healthcare information created, transmitted, received, and stored by organizations covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) on safeguarding the patient to promote integrity, confidentiality and to ensure the availability of health information (Kruse et al. 2017). Within the context of HIPAA, PHI links the past, present, and future physical and mental health data electronically maintained and transmitted. Furthermore, PHI information entails other healthcare aspects such as laboratory results, medical histories, insurance coverage, and demographic data useful in patient identification.

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Important HIPAA Information

HIPAA information is vital to both patients and healthcare organizations. It safeguards patient privacy by securing their private health information (HIPAA, 2015). Moreover, HIPAA reduces healthcare costs and covers healthcare employees through electronic data transmission and financial transaction standardization. Hospital organizations have adopted electronic copies from paper records through HIPAA information, thereby streamlining functions and enhancing healthcare efficiency (Vora et al., 2018). More importantly, HIPAA has ensured that healthcare providers, health plans, and clearing houses protect and safeguard sensitive and private patient information.

Confidentiality, Security, And Privacy

The concept of confidentiality is related to privacy and security and has been touted as a tool for privacy protection. According to Chenthara et al. (2018 Protected Health Information: Privacy, Security, and Confidentiality Best Practices), the main reason for security, confidentiality, and privacy is to ensure that patient information is only used for patient content’s intended and indicated purpose. The HIPAA Act of 1996 stipulates that a patient’s health information can only be disclosed with their consent (Price, 2018). Therefore, it is vital for patients to sign a consent form after reading it to make an informed decision to allow the sharing of their health information. But HIPAA also provides certain special conditions during which the patient data can be shared without their consent. Such conditions may include during health oversight activities, compensation processes, or when prompted by a court of law.

Inappropriate use of Social Media

Several nurses have been terminated in the US due to inappropriate use of social media. These terminations have occurred because the accused accessed patient information without the patient’s consent or any legitimate reason (Enaizan et al., 2020 Protected Health Information: Privacy, Security, and Confidentiality Best Practices). Another typical example is when a nurse’s colleague takes a video of the nurse while in labor to mock her, or a nurse takes a picture of a patient while undergoing an electrocardiogram procedure (Vora et al., 2018). These cases violate the HIPAA Act and can lead to both sanctions and heavy fines. This explains why all healthcare teams must be aware of privacy and confidentiality when handling patient information.

Consequences and Sanctions

There are severe consequences and sanctions for medical service providers who inappropriately share patient information on their social media handles. The HIPAA Act requires healthcare professionals to share relevant patient information through the Medicare system only. Therefore, healthcare organizations must assess the viability of what information the public can receive through social media. This is because sharing patient information through social media undermines their privacy and integrity.

The HIPAA Act provides heavy fines and penalties for any violation of patient privacy guidelines. While the penalties depend on the severity of the breach, a penalty could be as high as $50,000. Therefore, HIPAA has suggested various evidence-based strategies for maintaining patient privacy. For example, HIPAA requires every organization to provide for a privacy officer whose primary responsibility is to ensure that the organization fulfills HIPAA privacy requirements. The privacy officer oversees the implementation of HIPAA privacy standards and trains staff on maintaining patient privacy and confidentiality.

Protected Health Information: Privacy, Security, and Confidentiality Best Practices References

Chenthara, S., Ahmed, K., Wang, H., & Whittaker, F. (2019). Security and privacy-preserving challenges of e-health solutions in cloud computing. IEEE Access, 7, 74361-74382. DOI: 10.1109/ACCESS.2019.2919982

Enaizan, O., Zaidan, A. A., Alwi, N. M., Zaidan, B. B., Alsalem, M. A., Albahri, O. S., & Albahri, A. S. (2020). Electronic medical record systems: Decision support examination framework for individual, security and privacy concerns using multi-perspective analysis. Health and Technology, 10(3), 795-822. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12553-018-0278-7

Kruse, C. S., Smith, B., Vanderlinden, H., & Nealand, A. (2017). Security techniques for the electronic health records. Journal of Medical Systems, 41(8), 1-9. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10916-017-0778-4

Vora, J., Italiya, P., Tanwar, S., Tyagi, S., Kumar, N., Obaidat, M. S., & Hsiao, K. F. (2018, July). Ensuring privacy and security in e-health records. In 2018 International Conference On Computer, Information And Telecommunication Systems (CITS) (pp. 1-5). IEEE. DOI: 10.1109/CITS.2018.8440164

Protected Health Information (PHI): Privacy, Security, and Confidentiality Best Practices Instructions

Prepare a 2-page interprofessional staff update on HIPAA and appropriate social media use in health care.

Introduction

As you begin to consider the assessment, it would be an excellent choice to complete the Breach of Protected Health Information (PHI) activity. The activity will support your success with the assessment by creating the opportunity for you to test your knowledge of potential privacy, security, and confidentiality violations of protected health information. The activity is not graded and counts towards course engagement.

Health professionals today are increasingly accountable for the use of protected health information (PHI). Various government and regulatory agencies promote and support privacy and security through a variety of activities. Examples include:

  • Meaningful use of electronic health records (EHR).
  • Provision of EHR incentive programs through Medicare and Medicaid.
  • Enforcement of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) rules.
  • Release of educational resources and tools to help providers and hospitals address privacy, security, and confidentiality risks in their practices. Protected Health Information: Privacy, Security, and Confidentiality Best Practices

Technological advances, such as the use of social media platforms and applications for patient progress tracking and communication, have provided more access to health information and improved communication between care providers and patients.

At the same time, advances such as these have resulted in more risk for protecting PHI. Nurses typically receive annual training on protecting patient information in their everyday practice. This training usually emphasizes privacy, security, and confidentiality best practices such as:

  • Keeping passwords secure.
  • Logging out of public computers.
  • Sharing patient information only with those directly providing care or who have been granted permission to receive this information.

Today, one of the major risks associated with privacy and confidentiality of patient identity and data relates to social media. Many nurses and other health care providers place themselves at risk when they use social media or other electronic communication systems inappropriately. For example, a Texas nurse was recently terminated for posting patient vaccination information on Facebook. In another case, a New York nurse was terminated for posting an insensitive emergency department photo on her Instagram account. Protected Health Information: Privacy, Security, and Confidentiality Best Practices

Health care providers today must develop their skills in mitigating risks to their patients and themselves related to patient information. At the same time, they need to be able distinguish between effective and ineffective uses of social media in health care.

This assessment will require you to develop a staff update for the interprofessional team to encourage team members to protect the privacy, confidentiality, and security of patient information.

Preparation

To successfully prepare to complete this assessment, complete the following:

  • Review the infographics on protecting PHI provided in the resources for this assessment, or find other infographics to review. These infographics serve as examples of how to succinctly summarize evidence-based information.
  • Analyze these infographics and distill them into five or six principles of what makes them effective. As you design your interprofessional staff update, apply these principles. Note: In a staff update, you will not have all the images and graphics that an infographic might contain. Instead, focus your analysis on what makes the messaging effective.
  • Select from any of the following options, or a combination of options, the focus of your interprofessional staff update:
  • Social media best practices.
  • What not to do: social media.
  • Social media risks to patient information.
  • Steps to take if a breach occurs.
  • Conduct independent research on the topic you have selected in addition to reviewing the suggested resources for this assessment. This information will serve as the source(s) of the information contained in your interprofessional staff update. Consult the BSN Program Library Research Guide for help in identifying scholarly and/or authoritative sources.

Protected Health Information: Privacy, Security, and Confidentiality Best Practices Instructions

In this assessment, assume you are a nurse in an acute care, community, school, nursing home, or other health care setting. Before your shift begins, you scroll through Facebook and notice that a coworker has posted a photo of herself and a patient on Facebook. The post states, “I am so happy Jane is feeling better. She is just the best patient I’ve ever had, and I am excited that she is on the road to recovery.”

You have recently completed your annual continuing education requirements at work and realize this is a breach of your organization’s social media policy. Your organization requires employees to immediately report such breaches to the privacy officer to ensure the post is removed immediately and that the nurse responsible receives appropriate corrective action. Protected Health Information: Privacy, Security, and Confidentiality Best Practices

You follow appropriate organizational protocols and report the breach to the privacy officer. The privacy officer takes swift action to remove the post. Due to the severity of the breach, the organization terminates the nurse. Protected Health Information: Privacy, Security, and Confidentiality Best Practices

Based on this incident’s severity, your organization has established a task force with two main goals:

  • Educate staff on HIPAA and appropriate social media use in health care.
  • Prevent confidentiality, security, and privacy breaches.

The task force has been charged with creating a series of interprofessional staff updates on the following topics:

  • Social media best practices.
  • What not to do: Social media.
  • Social media risks to patient information.
  • Steps to take if a breach occurs. Protected Health Information: Privacy, Security, and Confidentiality Best Practices

You are asked to select one or more of the topics and create the content for a staff update containing a maximum of two content pages. This assessment is not a traditional essay. It is a staff educational update about PHI. Consider creating a flyer, pamphlet, or one PowerPoint slide (not an entire presentation). Remember it should not be more than two pages (excluding a title and a reference page).

The task force has asked team members assigned to the topics to include the following content in their updates in addition to content on their selected topics:

  • What is protected health information (PHI)?
  • Be sure to include essential HIPAA information.
  • What are privacy, security, and confidentiality?
  • Define and provide examples of privacy, security, and confidentiality concerns related to the use of technology in health care.
  • Explain the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration to safeguard sensitive electronic health information. Protected Health Information: Privacy, Security, and Confidentiality Best Practices
  • What evidence relating to social media usage and PHI do interprofessional team members need to be aware of? For example:
  • How many nurses have been terminated for inappropriate social media use in the United States?
  • What types of sanctions have health care organizations imposed on interdisciplinary team members who have violated social media policies?
  • What have been the financial penalties assessed against health care organizations for inappropriate social media use? Protected Health Information: Privacy, Security, and Confidentiality Best Practices
  • What evidence-based strategies have health care organizations employed to prevent or reduce confidentiality, privacy, and security breaches, particularly related to social media usage?
Notes
  • Your staff update is limited to two double-spaced content pages. Be selective about the content you choose to include in your update so you can meet the page length requirement. Include need-to-know information. Omit nice-to-know information.
  • Many times people do not read staff updates, do not read them carefully, or do not read them to the end. Ensure your staff update piques staff members’ interest, highlights key points, and is easy to read. Avoid overcrowding the update with too much content.
  • Also, supply a separate reference page that includes two or three peer-reviewed and one or two non-peer-reviewed resources (for a total of 3–5 resources) to support the staff update content. Protected Health Information: Privacy, Security, and Confidentiality Best Practices
Additional Requirements – Protected Health Information: Privacy, Security, and Confidentiality Best Practices
  • Written communication: Ensure the staff update is free from errors that detract from the overall message.
  • Submission length: Maximum of two double-spaced content pages.
  • Font and font size: Use Times New Roman, 12-point.
  • Citations and references: Provide a separate reference page that includes 2–3 current, peer-reviewed and 1–2 current, non-peer-reviewed in-text citations and references (total of 3–5 resources) that support the staff update’s content. Current means no older than 5 years.
  • APA format: Be sure your citations and references adhere to APA format. Consult the Evidence and APA page for an APA refresher. Protected Health Information: Privacy, Security, and Confidentiality Best Practices

Competencies Measured in Protected Health Information: Privacy, Security, and Confidentiality Best Practices

By successfully completing this assessment, you will demonstrate your proficiency in the following course competencies and scoring guide criteria:

  • Competency 1: Describe nurses’ and the interdisciplinary team’s role in informatics with a focus on electronic health information and patient care technology to support decision making.
  • Describe the security, privacy, and confidentially laws related to protecting sensitive electronic health information that govern the interdisciplinary team. Protected Health Information: Privacy, Security, and Confidentiality Best Practices
  • Explain the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration to safeguard sensitive electronic health information.
  • Competency 2: Implement evidence-based strategies to effectively manage protected health information.
  • Identify evidence-based approaches to mitigate risks to patients and health care staff related to sensitive electronic health information.
  • Develop a professional, effective staff update that educates interprofessional team members about protecting the security, privacy, and confidentiality of patient data, particularly as it pertains to social media usage.
  • Competency 5: Apply professional, scholarly communication to facilitate use of health information and patient care technologies.
  • Follow APA style and formatting guidelines for citations and references.
  • Create a clear, concise, well-organized, and professional staff update that is generally free from errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Protected Health Information: Privacy, Security, and Confidentiality Best Practices