Health Insurance and Accountability Act of 1996
Protecting individual privacy is a long standing tradition among the health care providers and public health practitioners. However, the shift of medical records from paper to electronic formats potentially increased the ease of access to other people, other than the health practitioners such as nurses. These are concerns that have been actively addressed by the United States department of health and human services. This has been achieved through the health insurance and accountability Act of 1996, which was done in a bid to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the health care system.
The implementation of this Act has affected many aspects of the health care systems. As the government opted for a shift from paper work to electronic health records, it had several objectives in mind. The government focused on standardization, simplification of information and cost savings (Olsen, 2004). With an increase on the ability to share patient information within the health care, there is a direct and potential increase on the responsibility to protect the information. This has meant that patients have to be informed about the practices and disclosure of their information where they must offer a written consent for payment, treatment, and health care operations. Patients have also been given the right to access their health information, as well as amend it at will (Stephen, 2011).
There has been a need to teach the health practitioners on how to access and use the EHR data. Though this has been relatively successful, attention of health practitioners (nurses) has been turned in helping patients understand the complexities and importance of protected health information (Olsen, 2004). For the nurses, this has not been an easy course. One timed educational interventions do not sustain the test of time. This has challenged their work. For instance, a diabetic patient cannot meet with a nurse at one meeting and understand what is expected of them. On the other hand, a nurse cannot attend a single lecture on HIPAA and understand all that it entails.
Nurses advocate for staff and patients, and are willing to make all this success. However, this is not the case when it comes to advocating for patients. The regulations are rather cumbersome and intrusive on their ability to provide care to patients. The implementation of this Act should have been a process rather than an Act, as compliance with HIPAA continues to require ongoing updates and monitoring (Stephen, 2011). The process of succession of new standards may take time. There are vast varieties of upcoming initiatives in the health care. Some of these initiatives include; patient safety strategies, personal health record technologies, health alert network, and consumer driven plans. There are implications on each of these areas which directly affect the convenience and working protocol of the nurses.
There are also scenarios where a patient is assigned different identification numbers for different heath care locations.
This is a complex issue for the care givers to offer a continuum treatment as it is difficult to link information from different areas. There are scenarios where individuals are compiling their own medical records based on the information they receive on websites (Olsen, 2004). Some of this information is very sensitive and patients fail to acknowledge their significance. This only intensifies the degree of barriers presented by patients accessing this form of information. It is rather difficult to measure the quality of care, however, with such contradicting forms of information and records the quality will be highly compromised further.
Olsen. K. (2004). Robert Wachter: The word on medical mistakes. News features. Health Leaders Speak Out. Retrieved May 24, 2005 from www.healthleaders.com/news/feature57663.html.
Stephen, B. 2011. HIPAA Privacy Rule and Public Health Guidance from CDC and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from: http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/hipaa/