Health Privacy: Regulation Enhances Protection of Patient Records but Raises Practical Concerns

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Testimony issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Advances in information technology, along with an increasing number of parties with access to identifiable health information, have created new challenges to maintaining the privacy of medical records. Patients and providers alike have expressed concern that broad access to medical records by insurers, employers, and others may result in inappropriate use of the information. Congress sought to protect the privacy of individuals' medical information as part of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). HIPAA included a timetable for developing comprehensive privacy standards that would ... continued below

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United States. General Accounting Office. February 8, 2001.

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Description

Testimony issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Advances in information technology, along with an increasing number of parties with access to identifiable health information, have created new challenges to maintaining the privacy of medical records. Patients and providers alike have expressed concern that broad access to medical records by insurers, employers, and others may result in inappropriate use of the information. Congress sought to protect the privacy of individuals' medical information as part of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). HIPAA included a timetable for developing comprehensive privacy standards that would establish rights for patients with respect to their medical records and define the conditions for using and disclosing identifiable health information. The final privacy regulation offers all Americans the opportunity to know and, to some extent, control how physicians, hospitals, and health plans use their personal information. At the same time, these entities will face a complex set of privacy requirements that are not well understood at this time. Some of the uncertainty expressed by stakeholder groups reflects the recent issuance of the regulation. With time, everyone will have greater opportunity to examine its provisions and assess their implications for the ongoing operations of everyone affected. In addition, on a more fundamental level, the uncertainty stems from HHS' approach of allowing entities flexibility in complying with its requirements. Although organizations generally applaud this approach, they acknowledge that greater specificity would likely allay some of their compliance concerns."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • February 8, 2001

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  • June 10, 2014, 6:42 a.m.

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United States. General Accounting Office. Health Privacy: Regulation Enhances Protection of Patient Records but Raises Practical Concerns, text, February 8, 2001; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc289963/: accessed August 16, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.