NURS-FPX4040 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.

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

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.

NURS-FPX4040 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

NURS-FPX4040 Protected Health Information PHI Paper Example 2

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

Patients are entitled to quality and safe care from every health facility. However, there are existing barriers which hinders delivery of such quality care, thereby impacting on the patients’ health outcomes. Health professionals before commencing their practice upon graduating from medical schools, take an oath, one of the items being to ensure confidentiality of the patient’s information.

A breech in this confidentiality can have devastating effects on the patients’ outcomes, thus the need to emphasize on the appropriate use of social media among the health professionals to avoid such consequences. As nurses, we need to understand the various risks inappropriate use of social media has on the patient’s health information, and understand our role regarding steps to take when we realize a breech has occurred.

 

Laws Related to Protecting Sensitive Electronic Health Information

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

Protected health information (PHI) under the US laws refers to any information, about individual’s health status, care provision or payment details for healthcare created by a covered entity and which can be associated with a particular individual. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) contains the privacy rules which ensure patients information remain secure and confidential.

It terms this privacy rule as protected health information which ensures that all individually identifiable information held or transmitted in any form either oral, paper or electronic, are protected any factor which my breech the confidentiality of the information (Liu et al, 2017). Sharing of the patient’s information on social media platforms regardless of the objective, raises confidentiality concerns since many social media users will learn about a particular patient’s condition, something which will negatively impact on the recovery and health outcomes of the affected patient.

Importance of Interdisciplinary Collaboration to Safeguard Sensitive Electronic Health Information

Healthcare professionals have the obligation of ensuring that all the health information stored and transmitted or share electronically are protected from any breech. Achieving this require the efforts of various personnel within the healthcare system. It is through their collaboration together with other stakeholders that will enhance the success of their ability to safeguard their patients’ information. The collaboration between the nurses, physicians, and technology specialists is essential in enabling the success of this (Ruland et al, 2018). All the professionals should act by ensuring that they adhere to the privacy policies, and report any individual who breaks the policy to the relevant body for appropriate disciplinary action.

The technology specialist can also advise the various professionals on how they can use their various social media platforms without breeching the confidentiality of the patient information. There has been significant increase in number of cases of nurses over the past two years being reported for inappropriate use of social media. These include the reported 35 cases compared to the 22 and 13 cases reported on the previous years.

Interdisciplinary team members who have been found to violate the policies have faced various forms of sanctions. Many have had their licenses suspended or revoked, some have been incarcerated, some terminated and even forced to pay fines for the damages they caused (Charatan, 2017). The healthcare organizations whose members break the policies have been forced to pay huge sums as compensation, something which impairs the operations in the facilities.

Evidence-Based Approaches to Mitigate Risks to Patients and Health Care Staff Related to Sensitive Electronic Health Information

Many strategies are in place to prevent and reduce breeches in patient information. First, regular risk assessment should be done in accordance with the HIPAA privacy and security rules to determine any vulnerability or threats within the system. Secondly, continuous education of the employees on the guidelines, rules and policies can also significantly reduce cases of breech of such confidentiality, as they will ensure they adhere to the stated policies (Ventola, 2019).

In addition, employees should be encouraged to be on the look and monitor any information that appears unattended to, and be their colleagues’ advisors in case one of them is in the process of breaking such policies. Adequate training on how to always ensure they appropriately use their electronic devices will also significantly reduce such cases.

Conclusion

In summary, ensuring confidentiality of patient information is paramount in enhancing the quality of care delivered to the patients. Nurses and other healthcare professionals should ensure they adhere to privacy rules while using their social media platforms to avoid posts that may contribute to breech of patient confidentiality. Incorporation of the various strategies will enable the various healthcare professionals understand the seriousness of the concern, therefore handle it with the attention it deserves.

References 

  • Charatan, F. B. (2017). United States cracks down on healthcare fraud.
  • Liu, V., Musen, M. A., & Chou, T. (2017). Data breaches of protected health information in the United States. Jama, 313(14), 1471-1473.
  • Ruland, C. M., Brynhi, H., Andersen, R., & Bryhni, T. (2018). Developing a shared electronic health record for patients and clinicians. Studies in health technology and informatics, 136, 57. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18487708/
  • Ventola, C. L. (2019). Social media and health care professionals: benefits, risks, and best practices. Pharmacy and therapeutics, 39(7), 491.

Protected Health Information (PHI): Privacy Security and Confidentiality Best Practices Example 3

Protected health information PHI is the personal information collected by healthcare professionals for the aim of patient identification. Protected health information includes demographic information, the medical history of a patient, their tests and laboratory results, the patient’s health conditions, and the patient’s insurance information. The HIPAA requires healthcare institutions to maintain safeguards that ensure confidentiality, privacy, integrity, and unavailability of protected health information to unauthorized persons.

 

The act also lays out guidelines for running health apps that potentially use, store, or transmit protected health information. HIPAA does not necessarily cover data collected by these apps. However, the healthcare institution applying the app is required to have a HIPAA compliance officer evaluating the app before implementation to ensure that it safeguards patients’ privacy, security, and confidentiality (HIPAA journal, 2022).

Privacy, security, and confidentiality

Protection of the patient’s privacy and treating their information with confidentiality protects them from security issues that would develop when unauthorized persons access their information. Patient privacy is the protection of the information that the institution collects about the individual. It is the right one to determine for themselves when and how personal information can be accessed or shared.

Confidentiality is the protection of sharing information with unauthorized persons. Security is the level at which personal information is restricted and allowed for those authorized only. According to Keshta and Odeh (2021), patient privacy, security, and confidentiality concerns include failure to safeguard various information directly affecting patients’ families. Also, accessing personal patient information would expose the patients to security risks such as being conned.

Importance of the interdisciplinary collaboration in safeguarding sensitive electronic health information

The interdisciplinary team has the role of safeguarding electronic health information, whether they come into contact with the information directly or indirectly. Since the consequences of breaching the protection of electronic health information may affect the entire healthcare institution, each interdisciplinary team member needs to maintain privacy, security, and confidentiality safeguards.

It is the role of the interdisciplinary team to promote patient safety. One way to promote patient safety is by safeguarding patient privacy and confidentiality and ensuring patient security. Effective safeguarding of sensitive electronic patient information requires the collaboration of the interdisciplinary team (Keshta & Odeh, 2021).

Evidence relating to social media usage and PHI

The issue of electronic health information and the protection of protected health information should be taken seriously by all interprofessional team members. It is worth noting that the US government takes inappropriate social media use by the healthcare team very seriously. It has legal complications ranging from license termination, individual fines, and even fines to the healthcare organization.

Healthcare institutions also set consequences for the interdisciplinary team when caught with social media misconduct. A healthcare professional may be suspended from working in the institution or initiate legal action. The misconduct may also make the institution to attract financial penalties or even affect its licensure.

Our institution’s evidence-based strategies to prevent and reduce confidentiality, privacy, and security breaches, especially related to social media use, include staff training, disciplinary action taken against the staff found breaching and taking legal action (Zhou et al., 2018). The institution has annual social media and information technology training for all staff members, whereby the staff is reminded of the safety issues of social media use. There are also set steps to report social media misconduct and breaches, and all the staff members are aware of the consequences.

Professional Staff Update

Every member of staff should be careful when using social media so that we can maintain patient safety. We need to safeguard the patient’s privacy, confidentiality, and security to achieve desired patient outcomes and make our work safe.

Social Media Best Practices

  • Healthcare professionals should have a clear distinction between social media and work.
  • Care providers should not post content that may bring privacy and security concerns to the patient.
  • Care providers should not post patients’ personal information on social media platforms, especially personal identification information.
  • The doctors and nurses should not post any diagnostic or patient medical history on social media without the patient’s consent.
  • Avoid sharing any sensitive patient information on social media platforms.
  • Social media misconduct should be reported to the disciplinary of the institution or the relevant authority.

Social Media Risks to Patient Information

The profound use of social media in healthcare poses a significant risk to sensitive patient information (Terrase et al., 2019). Patient information that hackers access may have detrimental effects on the patient’s safety and security. Personal information can be used to con the patient and patient families in the name of the healthcare institution. Some hackers can also use patient information to illegally access insurance reimbursements that cater to the patient’s treatment expenses.

Also, healthcare professionals’ accounts can be hacked, and patient information shared by malicious hackers, thus attracting legal implications to the owner of the hacked accounts. Therefore, it is integral for all healthcare staff in the interdisciplinary team to maintain good social media use and avoid as much as sharing patient information on their accounts.

References

Also Read: