Medical Services

Why healthcare administrators should maintain confidentiality in healthcare

Why healthcare administrators should maintain confidentiality in healthcare 1

Patient confidentiality is a fundamental and enshrined part of healthcare; all staff associated with the healthcare industry should thoroughly consider this aspect. Protecting patient confidentiality is a sign of respect and a way of strengthening the trust that patients have in a medical office. This makes it possible for health professionals to interact better with patients and properly provide services.

Healthcare administrators have a duty to maintain the privacy and confidentiality of their patient’s medical information. This duty is based on ethical principles as well as state and federal laws, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Medical shops can enable hospital-based structures to supply care more effectively and flexibly and help deal with fitness care inequities and continuously evolving public fitness desires even as selling neighborhood economic improvement.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal law that was enacted in 1996. The law was created to protect the privacy of patients’ health information and ensure the confidentiality of this information. It applies to all healthcare providers, including doctors, nurses, hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, and insurance companies. The law also applies to any other entity that stores, transmits, or has access to patient health information. Under HIPAA, patient health information must be kept private and confidential. This means that healthcare providers and other covered entities cannot share this information without the patient’s permission.

Besides, the presence of medical malls has made it possible for hospital-based structures to develop effective and efficient new services while maintaining adequate privacy of individual patient records. With this in place, fitness care inequities are also well managed to a large degree. This is an important aspect of care that has helped to improve clinical outcomes. Patients rely on medical administrators to maintain boundaries around what is said and shared, or accessible to others.

What does health administration entail?

Health administration refers to the principles, policies, and practices of public health. Health administrators are individuals, groups, and organizations responsible for planning, organizing, directing, and controlling the elements within a healthcare setting that provide or promote health-related services with the goal of improving the level of services being provided to patients in an effective way.

If you want to learn more about what health administration is, an advanced online program in health administration from the University of Ottawa will give you the tools you need for an exciting career. The program offers a comprehensive curriculum that covers the essential concepts and skills required to be a successful health administrator. You will cover topics such as organizational management, health policy, economics, and finance among others while you get equipped with the knowledge necessary to effectively manage healthcare organizations.

The maintenance of the confidentiality of a patient’s health information is the responsibility of the healthcare administrator. This information is protected by federal, state, and local laws, as well as by professional ethical codes. There are several ways to ensure that confidential information is kept safe, including password protection, physical security measures, and encryption. Most importantly, there should be procedures and policies in place to address how confidential information will be used, disclosed, and stored.

What is health information?

Health information is any written, oral, or electronic communication that is received or created by a healthcare entity, organization, or practitioner as part of providing treatment and care. It can be information relating to a person’s health, health service received, or disability.

How health services handle information

Information about the patient is used by healthcare providers to provide services. It may also be used for medical research, billing, and public health purposes. It is the responsibility of providers to take steps towards protecting the information from unauthorized access or disclosure using various methods to ensure that confidential information is secure.

Health organizations that are authorized to collect people’s health information include:

  • Dental surgeries
  • Doctors’ clinics or surgeries
  • Pharmacies
  • Specialist clinics
  • Sexual health clinics
  • Child and maternal health clinics
  • Private and public hospitals
  • Disability services
  • Nutritionists and dietitians
  • Physiotherapists and optometrists
  • Fitness providers—fitness trainers, weight loss services, and gyms
  • Chiropractors, massage therapists, naturopaths, and complementary medicine providers
  • Healthcare workers in schools and childcare centers

Medical confidentiality

Confidentiality involves protecting the medical records of patients and keeping them private. Medical confidentiality entails a set of rules, regulations, and guidelines that prevent unauthorized people from viewing, accessing, or distributing a patient’s medical records. Aside from a few exceptions, discussions between doctors and patients must be kept private by law.

Even if you visit a new doctor, you must give written consent to your previous doctor if your health information is required for your medical file. Physicians do not have to ask for your permission to use, share, or disclose medical information if needed. However, they must inform you of any disclosure that may occur and give you a chance to object.

Communication between healthcare professionals and patients is vital for proper medical care as well as treatment. It is also essential in maintaining the trust of patients and avoiding any risk to confidentiality. On the other hand, there are different methods for communicating with patients.

Privacy in healthcare

Privacy is more than just ensuring patient confidentiality and maintaining boundaries around medical records. It also involves allowing patients to maintain their privacy when making choices and decisions about their healthcare.

In healthcare, privacy also means that any information you share with your healthcare provider, any test or medication you take, what the doctor writes down about you, and all other personal details are kept private. Every individual has a legal right to medical privacy, and health service providers should follow stipulated laws that guide on how to collect and record health information, how it must be stored, as well as when and how it should be used and shared.

A patient’s decision to participate in or refuse medical treatment or tests should be respected. Medical professionals cannot force treatment on a patient unless there is a medical emergency or the patient has voluntarily agreed to the treatment.

Exemptions to privacy laws

There are some exceptions to the strict privacy laws governing the privacy of medical records. For instance, health service providers are within their rights to disclose a patient’s health information if they believe that this will save a life or prevent serious physical injury.

Disclosure of health information may be required in individual declared emergencies or by public officials and agencies when legally authorized under state or federal law. Also, law enforcement officers can gain access to medical records during an investigation if they have a court order or warrant to do so.

Medical records are important for maintaining quality and providing healthcare to patients. However, there may be times when you might have to disclose your private health information, such as when:

  • You consent to the disclosure of your health information. The information is required by a law, statute, or court order; an investigation being conducted concerning the commission of a crime (but this must be limited to just that investigation); or public health issues/security.
  • Information can be shared with other professionals providing care to you, such as a physical therapist or nutritionist, or family members that are authorized to receive or interpret the information.
  • When health information is shared with stakeholders or provided to a third party for administrative purposes such as legal proceedings, billing, or medical research.
  • When health information is shared for payment purposes with an outside organization that provides products or services such as prosthetics, insurance companies (medical claims), therapists, and transportation (ambulance) among others.

Importance of patient confidentiality in healthcare

As hospitals and doctors become more dependent on electronic information, the policies and procedures regarding how patient information is shared are changing. Confidentiality rules that doctors and hospitals once followed are no longer as effective when so much information is stored in electronic form. While raising the privacy and security of patient information is important to doctors, hospitals, and insurance providers, it is also necessary to safeguard the rights of individuals.

Confidentiality can be maintained when patients are involved during the sharing, release, or access to their health information. These are some of the reasons why patient confidentiality is important in healthcare:

Prevents discrimination

Federal law prohibits discrimination against patients based on race, color, national origin, or disability. It also prevents discrimination based on health status and specific conditions, such as pregnancy or illness. Each person has a right to privacy regardless of race, sex, ancestry, national origin, disability status, or any other factor. Laws keep institutions such as doctors’ offices and hospitals from discriminating against a patient because of their physical or mental health.

Builds trust

Healthcare providers have a responsibility to keep the patient’s information private. This helps build trust and can help patients feel confident in the environment. Confidentiality also helps maintain a trusting relationship between you and your doctor. Your doctor can best diagnose and provide treatment options when they know they can discuss all aspects of your medical situation with you.

Protects the patient and others

Health information is a powerful tool. Having access to sensitive health information can create privacy risks for a patient, as well as their family and friends. When unauthorized groups have access to personal information, they can use it to commit fraud or theft. The potential risks of knowledge of a patient’s health information increase when it is shared with outside organizations.

Preserves the doctor’s reputation

When the confidentiality of patient information is protected, it preserves the doctor’s reputation and prevents the public from losing faith in them or their organization.

Reputation is considered to be a part of a doctor’s business. A person with a good reputation is more likely to be successful in their medical practice. If patients trust their doctor, they will be more likely to seek treatment for illnesses and injuries that require medical expertise. Patients may also refer their friends and family members to their doctor for care.

Satisfies the doctor’s legal obligations

Doctors also have a professional and ethical responsibility to protect the privacy of their patients’ health information. The American Medical Association (AMA) Code of Medical Ethics states that physicians must take all reasonable steps to prevent unauthorized disclosure of patients’ health information.

Maintaining patient confidentiality the right way

A patient’s right to privacy and confidentiality ought to be respected when sharing private medical information. Since the security and confidentiality of health information are essential for doctors’ practice, they should ensure that their patients are not at risk of identity theft or other data breaches.

With the steady advancement of technology, patient confidentiality has been revolutionized due to the growing dependence on digital tools. To maintain patient confidentiality, healthcare professionals must provide informed consent from their patients before disclosing sensitive health information. Here are some tips that can help health administrators maintain patient confidentiality:

Implementing robust procedures and policies

It should be standard practice to ensure that there are procedures in place to protect patient confidentiality. All staff members should be trained about the need for maintaining patient confidentiality. A policy should also define the responsibilities of each person who handles sensitive patient information. An office manager or receptionist may not know much about healthcare, but they should still understand their obligations as well as those of their colleagues.

In its essence, a policy agreement should serve as a legal document that states the organization’s commitment to preserving confidential patient information. A policy should also provide a framework for how organizations will manage and protect their patients’ information. All members working in the organization should read, understand, and attest to it.

Conduct regular training for staff members

Even staff members who have been with the organization for years may not know about the policies to protect patient confidentiality. For these individuals to be confident with their knowledge, they must be trained on how to handle sensitive information. Regular training helps staff members keep up to date on safe practices in maintaining patient confidentiality.

Pay more attention to personal devices

Due to the number of people using personal devices for work purposes, there is an increased risk of unlawful access to patient information. When employees bring their own devices to work, they may inadvertently share private health information with other users who could potentially use it to commit fraud or theft. To mitigate this risk, staff members should at least disclose the existence of personal devices to administrators and HR staff. The use of mobile devices such as tablets and laptops should be restricted in inpatient areas unless they have appropriate security controls.

Invest in secured storage systems and modern solutions

It is critical to implement secure storage systems to protect sensitive patient information from unauthorized access. Even individuals with sensitive positions, such as nurses or health technicians, have the potential to accidentally disclose patient information. To guard against this risk, healthcare organizations should invest in secured storage systems that prevent unauthorized access to patient data. This includes modern systems such as biometric patient identification solutions, which encrypt patient data to ensure only the actual individual can access medical information by way of scanning medical characteristics, such as fingerprints. This also eliminates overlays and duplicate records while preventing medical identity theft.

Advance your health career and become an effective health administrator

Maintaining patient confidentiality is essential for protecting privacy as well as patients’ health and security. Since identity theft is a major concern for patients, healthcare administrators must ensure that there are strict medical policies in place to safeguard confidential information.

Health administrators are healthcare professionals who focus on the administrative aspects of running a hospital or clinic. They manage all aspects of the healthcare facility, including staffing, budgeting, scheduling, and quality assurance. If you are an aspiring healthcare administrator, enroll in one of several online programs at the University of Ottawa available to help you reach your goal.

Dorothy R. Ferry

Coffee trailblazer. Unapologetic student. Freelance communicator. Travel nerd. Music fan. Spoke at an international conference about donating magma for farmers. Had some great experience promoting saliva on the black market. Spent 2002-2009 lecturing about basketballs in Pensacola, FL. In 2009 I was writing about Magic 8-Balls in Miami, FL. Earned praised for my work importing crayon art in Hanford, CA. At the moment I'm managing sausage in West Palm Beach, FL.

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