Imposing the provisions of The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 is of the utmost importance to the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). With many citizens of the country likely engaged in medical assistance and consultation that they do not want publicized, organizations like HHS step in to present sanctions when this basic right to privacy is violated.
Officials at the Phoenix Cardiac Center – with facilities in both Phoenix and Prescott, Arizona – are learning this lesson first hand after it was recently reported that the practice was forced to pay a settlement of $100,000 in addition to other mandated corrective practices for failing to safeguard patient privacy.
According to a press release issued by HHS, the center kept a public calendar that logged patients' clinical and surgical appointment online, and was accessible to anyone who came across it. It is reported that employees were not properly trained on the policies of national security rules.
"This case is significant because it highlights a multi-year, continuing failure on the part of this provider to comply with the requirements of the Privacy and Security Rules," said Leon Rodriguez, of the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the release. "We hope that health care providers pay careful attention to this resolution agreement and understand that the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules have been in place for many years, and OCR expects full compliance no matter the size of a covered entity."
Considering this substantial fiscal sanction, it would be wise for other facilities to implement preventative privacy measures through a partnership with a certified medical technology consulting company. These professionals can audit a facility's existing security practices and then implement a useful product suite including medical practice management software to ensure that employees across the practice are following the provisions of a privacy plan.
Microwize Technology is a leading healthcare IT consultant offering products such as electronic medical records software and medical billing software from top providers like Allscripts and McKesson, including McKesson's Medisoft, Lytec and Practice Choice products.