Healthcare Cybersecurity

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The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was established, mandating the Secretary of Health and Human Services to promulgate guidelines for interchange electronic health records, confidentiality, and protection (Act, 1996). These are referred to together as the Administrative Simplification provisions. The act obligated the Secretary to oversee HIPAA and create privacy protections controlling personally identifying health data. The Confidentiality Rules, the definitive guideline, was released for public comment and participation and amendments were done before the final release.

HITECH Act

As a key component of the 2009 stimulus package, Congress enacted the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) .  The HITECH Act introduced substantial revisions to the HIPAA Act, notably regarding privacy protections. The HITECH Act includes a section with Improved Security and Privacy Provisions. The HITECH Act was legislated to enable healthcare professionals who use or intend to use electronic health records (EHR) infrastructures, address better accessibility to EHR, expand the implementation of HIPAA privacy regulations to key stakeholders of covered entities, and enforce a merit system of constitutional penalties and fines for Noncompliance (Sanger, 2009).

The Privacy Rule aims to eliminate disclosing protected patient information or details that a patient would anticipate not to be disclosed without their permission. A patient’s protected health information (PHI) contains information that can be used to identify or expose the medical details of an individual. Before the HITECH ACT, health plans and healthcare professionals were expected to adhere to HIPAA standards and obligations completely (Burde, H. (2011). Business affiliates of protected businesses were not subject to direct regulation. As per the HITECH Act, business affiliates have to be accountable for HIPAA compliance and are immediately liable to the authorities over HIPAA violations. Business partners are directly accountable for both criminal and civil consequences. This heightened statutory obligation for business partners under HIPAA will necessitate the update of business associate and vendor lists and the renegotiating of contracts (Sanger, 2009). Furthermore, business affiliates will almost certainly suffer expenditures due to getting into direct Legal compliance. The HHS Department Secretary will eventually release guidelines on these measures.

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