What is HIPAA?
HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability
Act of 1996, Public
was designed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness
of the health care system. It included “Administrative
Simplification” provisions that required the U.S. Department
of Health and Human Services (HHS) to adopt national standards
for electronic health care transactions. At the same time,
Congress recognized that advances in electronic technology
could erode the privacy of health information. Consequently,
Congress incorporated into HIPAA provisions that mandated
the adoption of federal privacy protections for individually
identifiable health information.
What is the Impact of HIPAA’s
Health care providers have a strong tradition of safeguarding private health
information (PHI). In today’s world, however, with information broadly
held and transmitted electronically, the Privacy Rule provides clear standards
for the protection of PHI. The Rule requires certain activities to ensure this
confidentiality. They include:
- Notifying patients about their privacy rights and
how their information can be used.
- Adopting and implementing privacy procedures for
- Training employees so that they understand the privacy
- Designating an individual to be responsible for
seeing that the privacy procedures are adopted and
- Securing patient records containing individually
identifiable health information so that they are
not readily available
to those who do not need them.
How to Use This Site
This Web site has been developed for use by practicing physicians
in small office-based practices. It is not a substitute for
legal advice. We have provided a basic starter kit of information,
policies, forms, and resources. We do not cover special areas
such as research, marketing, and fundraising, which have
special rules that are not relevant to most practices.
have formatted this Web site to provide maximal efficiency
for you and your office staff. Question Categories, located
on the right, provide answers to your most frequently asked
questions about HIPAA and
is the foundation for learning on this site. Answers cross-reference
helpful Resources such
as links to relevant Web sites, examples
of Daily Dilemmas you
may face, and useful Documents to
assist you with HIPAA compliance more quickly. You can also
all of the Resources, Daily Dilemmas, and Documents referenced
throughout this site from the menu at the top of every
page. An online Test is
available to check how well you've absorbed
A text-only version of this Web site is available by clicking
on the “Text-Only Web Site” link at the top.
The text-only version is helpful for printing the contents
of this site or if you have a slower Internet connection
or older browser.