What is HIPAA Compliance and Why Does It Matter

HIPAA Security Key

When you work with a personal injury lawyer, part of that process involves sending sensitive
and personal documents. Documents like medical records and tax forms can disclose a lot of
private information but are often necessary to file a claim. So, what can you do as a client?
Enter the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This blog post will
cover what HIPAA compliance is, and why it matters in the first place.

What is HIPAA?

HIPAA was a federal law passed in 1966 with the purpose of creating national standards to
protect sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without the patient’s consent or
knowledge. The three primary goals of HIPAA include:

1) Improve the portability of health insurance
2) Provide continuous health insurance for workers who lose or change their job
3) Create standards to keep patient health information secure and to notify patients
in the case of a data breach

We’ll be focusing on this last goal since HIPAA has expanded beyond just doctors and hospitals.
Any online portal, service, or website that requires the sending of protected health information
(PHI) needs to comply with HIPAA.

If you work with a personal injury in San Antonio through LegalStream, you may need to send
sensitive documents in order to proceed with your claim. Hence, that’s why LegalStream needs
to be HIPAA compliant too – which we are.

What Does It Mean to Be HIPAA Compliant?

For a company to be HIPAA compliant, it means that they adhere to all the standards (or titles)
presented in HIPAA. There are five in total, but we’ll be focusing on the relevant sections that
relate to data privacy. The data privacy regulations in HIPAA are broken down into three rules:
– The Privacy Rule
– The Security Rule
– The Breach Notification Rule

The Privacy Rule

The privacy rule sets regulations to limit who can look at and receive your health information.
This rule also establishes what type of information is classified as protected health information (PHI). Under the privacy rule, all information that falls under PHI is protected regardless of how
the information is presented (e.g. electronically, on paper, verbally, through a video, etc.).

The Security Rule

The security rule protects a subset of the information covered in the privacy rule by creating a
special list of protocols for identifiable health information sent electronically. This information is
referred to as electronic protected health information (e-PHI). The HIPAA security rule requires
three additional safeguards for electronic documents: administrative, physical, and technical.

The Breach Notification Rule

As the name suggests, the breach notification rule requires HIPAA-covered entities and their
business associates to provide notification in the case of a data breach. The breach notification
rule also specifies that notifications must be sent out to consumers no later than 60 days after
the breach occurs. This rule applies to both PHI and e-PHI.

Examples of Protected Health Information

Below are some common examples of PHI and e-PHI protected through HIPAA:
– Birth records
– Fingerprints
– Voice prints
– Full-face photographic images
– Health records
– Health histories
– Lab test results
– Prescription information
– Medical bills

Why Does HIPAA Matter to Consumers?

Without HIPAA, there wouldn’t be any healthcare requirements in place to safeguard your
sensitive information. The three rules above protect your data by requiring health organizations
to control who has access to your health data, and who can share that data. HIPAA is important
to consumers because it holds healthcare providers and their business associates accountable
in the case of data breaches.

If you’d like to learn more about HIPAA, this U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
page is a great place to start.
Use the sidebar to scroll down to the parts relevant to consumers.

Is LegalStream HIPAA Compliant?

LegalStream offers a 100% HIPAA compliant portal that makes sharing documents easy and –
most importantly – secure. We connect you to both lawyers and healthcare providers solutions
in San Antonio. This means you can send all the necessary documents to get the help you
need, without having to worry about your data getting into the wrong hands.

Present your case and get the medical assistance you need today!