HIPAA violation case: The future of HIPAA and you

Apr 29, 2016

2 minutes, 21 seconds

I think it’s a safe bet to say there are approximately six people on this planet who do not find George Clooney attractive. I happen to be one of them. Although I’ve never daydreamed about him, I can relate to emotions affiliated with celebrity worship. For example, years ago I was obsessed with Lance Armstrong and had a huge poster of him in my office. A friend autographed it, faking Lance’s name, and added a beautiful, written declaration of love to me. It was a terrific gift, albeit got me in a tiny bit of trouble when his handler wound up visiting my boss.

George’s HIPAA violation case

No matter who your favorite public figure is, there are limits to how far your adoration should go. And for those who have trouble grasping the obvious, there are also laws. In the famous Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) violation case of George Clooney, no less than 27 employees of Palisades Medical Center in New Jersey were suspended without pay for one month back in 2007. They failed to ward off the temptation of peeping into his file after he’d been treated for motorcycle accident injuries. This in and of itself was shameful enough, but some took it even further and leaked the information they obtained to the media (likely in exchange for cash).

The employees had violated federal law, specifically the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 which restricts access to patient medical information. While it may seem obvious that an organization shouldn’t have to train their staff on how to apply good judgement to situations involving someone’s medical information, the number one cause of HIPAA violations in 2015 was a lack of training for employees. It behooves organizations to invest in regular, teaching seminars for staff on the importance of maintaining integrity with protected health information (PHI).

Be proud of the cloud

As medical information continues to be stored and accessed in the cloud, technical safeguards aren’t a futuristic necessity, they’re a “right now” necessity. In keeping with the example of Clooney, he resides in multiple places and should he get into another motorcycle scuffle in Los Angeles or Como, the ideal is for physicians to obtain critical health history from a centralized, cloud-based application. If the provider is best in class, they will have already met security standards aligned with electronic protected health information (ePHI). This avoids archaic information exchanges via fax and high-risk human error transmissions of paper documents. It’s hard to even imagine a modern health environment filled with huge file cabinets, overstuffed with manila file folders, listed in alphabetical order.

IntelePeer is a proud provider in the healthcare vertical market. Our cloud-based offerings are ideal solutions for reducing costs and more efficient, customer-friendly interactions for contact center operators and IT managers. To Learn more about our cloud solutions, contact us.

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