Understanding the Challenges Posed by Privacy Laws

Understanding the Challenges Posed by Privacy LawsMay 6, 2015 by Vickie Anenberg

With the advent of Big Data, hospitals and healthcare systems will have an unprecedented opportunity to learn more about their patients, the care they need, and how to better manage their facilities for growth. In general, healthcare providers can mine their data without any legal implications, as long as patient privacy is protected from covert or overt theft. However, state and federal laws take effect whenever third parties are trusted with access to this data.

The Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) governs the uses of patient data without having to obtain patient authorization. In essence, this law is the federal lynchpin to ensure that the Protected Health Information (PHI) remains safe, as defined in the Act. By and large, with stiff federal penalties imposed on healthcare providers whenever PHI is disclosed to unauthorized users. Violations have gradually decreased.

Conversely, state laws governing healthcare information are not as widely understood. To put such laws into perspective, the states enact legislation that primarily pertain to what information about patients can be disclosed. Most states have such laws in effect, and at least 20 percent of them are more stringent than federal standards. When this occurs, state law takes precedence, which can present providers with additional challenges they need to recognize.

ExecutiveInsight has posted an article, “Privacy Laws Impose Key Restrictions,” that provides detailed information about the issues sharing Big Data can present. It concludes, “The privacy issues that arise in connection with the secondary uses of Big Data in healthcare necessitate a thorough analysis of the data flow, which should include at minimum, the source of data, the type of data, and the laws governing such data.”

Healthcare providers need to schedule periodic reviews of their Big Data management policies. Understanding the legal implications of its use are important to mitigate risk.

In this era of increased regulation and the need to implement new mandates to provide quality care, having a talented, professional healthcare staff has never been more important. Cross Country Staffing has been helping hospitals to cost-effectively achieve their staffing goals for more than 35 years. We can manage your most diverse staffing challenges by offering unique workforce solutions. Contact us at Cross Country Staffing for details.