HIPAA at 20: Looking back at two decades of patient privacy protections

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Lucille Barrett
Lucille Barretthttps://bloggingkits.org
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patient privacy protections

More than two years ago, on August 21, 1996, then-President Invoice Clinton signed the Health insurance Portability and Duty Act (HIPAA) into regulation. Since then, healthcare has modified lots, and HIPAA has helped guide the one’s modifications each step of the manner.

HIPAA’s early years

Even though HIPAA became surpassed in 1996, it might take nearly seven years for the initial HIPAA Privateness Rule to enter impact. As the first federal law to address the Privacy and protection of health information, the HIPAA Privacy Rule became inherently complicated. Privacy provisions within the original law signed by way of President Clinton totaled 337 words. The final rule issued in March 2002 was around one hundred and one,000 phrases long and spanned More than 500 pages, in step with an October 2003 USA Today article.

“When the HIPAA law to start with went into effect, it generated vast skepticism, confusion, or even angst,” Jocelyn Samuels, director of the HHS’ Workplace for Civil Rights (OCR), informed Healthcare Dive.

The grievance of HIPAA came from all instructions, Samuels said. On one facet, healthcare providers wondered whether HIPAA might show to be too bulky and expensive to conform with. On the opposite, patient advocates expressed the challenge that HIPAA wouldn’t provide meaningful protections.

Within the early years of HIPAA Privateness protections, HHS and OCR, which changed into chargeable for enforcing the Privateness Rule, seemed content material to allow non-compliant healthcare carriers to slide with a caution. From April 2003 to 2008, around 35,000 HIPAA Privacy violations have been mentioned, but no longer an unmarried civil first-class changed into levied towards a healthcare issue.

HHS stated it had labored with round 6,000 carriers stated for violations to assisting them in attaining “voluntary compliance,” in line with an April 2008 article within the Wall Avenue Magazine. Their technique turned to inspire “upgrades that have been constructive and were completed More quickly than through the imposition of monetary penalties.” This approach might trade with the passage of the HITECH Act in 2009.


In many approaches, HIPAA became ahead of its time. Even though it passed earlier than considerable adoption of EHRs, HIPAA identified in 1996 that digitization of fitness data was proper around the nook. One of its goals was to standardize the electronic trade of touchy fitness facts. HIPAA laid the basis for destiny efforts to increase fitness IT, and those efforts, in flip, strengthened HIPAA’s Privacy protections.

“HIPAA has converted healthcare and healthcare shipping over the past many years, evolving itself alongside generation,” Samuels stated. “The HIPAA standards have helped pave the way for the sizeable adoption of the digital fitness document and the interoperability of health data.”

While the HITECH Act surpassed in 2009, it covered provisions to strengthen HIPAA Privateness protections and HHS’s capability to implement them. The HITECH Act extended compliance requirements to commercial enterprise associates of blanketed entities, required self-reporting of Privateness breaches, and expanded capability fines for violations to as much as $1.five million. Later that 12 months, OCR might issue the first of many multi-million greenback fines for HIPAA violations.

HITECH adjustments to HIPAA were finalized in January 2013 with the discharge of the HIPAA/HITECH Omnibus’s very last Rule. “The very last omnibus rule marks the most sweeping modifications to the HIPAA Privacy and Security Policies In view that they had been first carried out,” then-OCR Director Leon Rodriguez said.

Wherein has HIPAA fallen quick?

While sufferers are technically afforded the right beneath HIPAA to access their own private health facts, this is less difficult stated than achieved. “Far too often, people face obstacles to accessing their health information, even from entities required to comply with the HIPAA Privacy Rule,” Samuels wrote in a January blog put up.

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