When you’re sick and at the doctor’s office, you have to reveal a lot of personal information for the physician to properly treat you. Within your file contains your demographic information, your personal medical history, mental health, tests and lab results, insurance information, and more. All of this falls under a specific category called protected health information (PHI).
In 1996, Congress passed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in order to protect patients’ PHI. Privacy and security weren’t the only topics covered in HIPAA. It also addressed health insurance prices and changes, encouraged the use of electronic health records (EHRs), and developed the groundwork for a national healthcare standard.
HIPAA was amended — rather, bolstered — in 2009, when Congress passed the HITECH Act. It addressed many of the problems arising from HIPAA and helped bring the framework into the 21st century. It also brought with it harsher penalties for HIPAA noncompliance. To avoid these fees, healthcare providers and their business associates must understand the HITECH Act penalties and enforcement.