Patients leave a lot of personal data in the world wide open network while using Internet search engines, electronic mediums of transactions like credit cards, cell phones, websites and home healthcare medical devices that are prone to virus attacks, etc. Most people are unaware of the fact that some of these information are not covered by HIPAA, and that this data can be sensitive because they are protected under HIPAA regulations as Patient Health Information (PHI).
This type of unregulated data has the potential to paint a detailed health profile of an individual. It can also describe whole communities based on factors such as health conditions and location. Using this type of unregulated information, it becomes easy for data brokers to build reports on individuals and sell to marketers. In majority of such cases, consumers are left with no recourse to obtain or rectify their data.
- According to MobiHealth News, the data obtained by check-ins on Foursquare at fast food restaurants or wearable devices such as FitBit are not protected under HIPAA
- Health scores are not covered by these regulations too. These scores act like credit scores for a patient’s health that is not controlled by HIPAA
- Combination of different types of information such as consumer-generated data and historical claims data can be easily combined and used for health or financial-risk profiling. This type of information is purchased by hospitals, hedge funds, pharmaceutical companies, payers and large provider networks
Unfortunately, majority of consumers are not vigilant about their data protection. They are willing to share data in order to help hospitals, pharmaceutical companies or large provider networks serve goals related to public health.
Recently, a survey was conducted on more than 21,000 patients with medical health conditions in the US, asking their opinion on sharing personal health data through social media in the wake of HIPAA regulations.
- It was found that they were very open to the idea of online sharing of health information if it helped improve their health
- They were not reluctant in letting researchers learn more about their disease and come up with better treatment options
- Approximately 84% patients were ready to share health information with drug companies to help them make safer and effective products
- 94% patients were glad to share the information to improve care provision for future patients who may suffer from similar health conditions
The survey results give an indication that a new age in medicine has started. People are ready to share personal health data even after knowing that some of it is not covered under HIPAA regulations. This will surely help researchers come up with breakthroughs in medicine.
HIPAA-compliant Medical Billing Services
Not just patients but the providers also need to be careful about HIPAA compliance. In order to streamline billing and avoid HIPAA audits, many practices outsource their billing requirements to companies like MedicalBillersandCoders.com. MBC is one of the largest consortiums of certified coders and billers well-trained in handling HIPAA-compliant medical billing. The company serves 42 specialties spread all over the 50 states in the US, helping providers sail through reimbursement challenges.