Term Paper On HIPAA


This paper analyzes the importance of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, 1996 for transfer of information in the health care industry, and for this purpose it takes support from three published articles. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, 1996 is often referred to as HIPAA. The act covers health insurance of workers-especially those workers who change or lose their jobs-and their families. Former President of the United States of America, Bill Clinton, ratified the Act on August 21, 1996, and it became a Public Law 104-191, requiring all health-care clearing houses, health plans, and any surgeon who delivers information in digital form to use a standardized digital device. So that security and cost effectiveness can be ensured. This paper examines Health Insurance Portability and Accountability’s significance in terms of securing the development of health information systems.

Keyword: Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, health care, information system.

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Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, 1996

The Congress passed the HIPAA legislation as a Federal Law on August 21, 1996. It was formulated to facilitate the development of health information systems. These systems were expected to enable a secure electronic exchange of health care information.

Furthermore, to aid digital transaction standards, privacy, and security for patients, health plan and health care purchasers, and doctors, the Department of Health and Human Services Department was summoned to formulate rules and regulations. A few of these rules have been printed, while others are pending

Literature Review

As the use of computer networks for storing patients’ information and providing health related information is increasing, concern about the security of these data has heightened. The information technology is gaining in popularity by the day. Hence, it is essential to undertake measures to safeguard patients’ privacy by employing the right kind of information security technology into the information frameworks.

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As is fitting, with the spread of the use of these networks, a new cadre of HIPAA consultants has emerged, and hospitals, health plans, and many physician-run practices have found their help essential in understanding how to comply with the new regulations. (Annas, 2003)

Moreover, the health care services industry has highest rate of internet susceptibilities, based on Cisco’s research. The susceptibility rate of health-related web programs is 61.07%, which is alarmingly high compared to the susceptibility rate of only 27.37% in other industries; and this susceptibility can be attributed to extensive dissemination of information within the health care services industry.

Understandably, the health care industry became anxious with regard to the security of its information system, and soon the government, too, realized the significance of guarding patients’ privacy, to which end it formulated health-related privacy and safety laws.


The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, 1996 sets forth a collection of measures, through which it aims to oversee the digital exchange of health information and also to safeguard its privacy and security. Almost all sectors of the health care industry, in which any information is electronically transferred, are included in the legislature.

Out of the many aims of HIPAA one is to aid the US Department of Health and Human Services and the Congress in formulating rules with regard to transferring and maintaining health information of every medical treatment seeker. It is nearly impossible to bring together all aspects of security, such as physical safety measure, administrative procedures, technical security services, etc. However, HIPAA redefined the security system by putting forth the following conditions:

The measures should be extendable—that is to say, all forms of health providing establishments should operate in accordance with these measures.
The measures should be all-encompassing, i.e., the security mechanism must function as an integrated system. Additionally, these measures should not serve as fragmentary items which do not relate to one another.
The security system should be neutral with regard to technology, that is, certain security technologies should neither be recommended nor encouraged. It must be realized that the world of technology is continually changing.

Finally, for the purpose of safeguarding the authenticity, confidentiality and accessibility of health data in electronic form, HIPAA recommended terms and conditions that ought to be included in the established health care security measures.

Benefits Of The Network Technologies

Electronic health or e-health has become very popular of late. Health care providers have realized that the use of computer networking improves the efficiency of their operations. Further, these technologies have enabled physicians, for the first time, to practice medicine

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Further, under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), healthcare institutions are obliged to take appropriate measures to ensure that patient information is only provided to people who have a professional need. (Zao, Huang, & Zhou, 2003), indicating that a mandate like this is appropriate for ensuring health data security.

Problems With The Networking Technologies

With an increase in networking technologies in the health care industry, it is important to implement measures to safeguard the confidentiality of patients’ records. However, this cannot take place unless health providing entities are willing to incorporate protective mechanisms within their information systems infrastructures.

Moreover, in a report on the influence of the HIPAA privacy rule on health research, it was found that only a quarter of the scientists surveyed perceived that the rule has enhanced participants’ privacy. Added to this, the rule was perceived to have a substantial, negative influence on the conduct of human subjects’ health research, often adding to uncertainty, cost, and delay. (Ness, 2007)

Conclusion And Recommendations

Whatever one’s opinions on the HIPAA regulations, they will form the starting point for future national regulation of medical privacy. (Annas, 2003). However, as health care and information technology converge, a burning question of confidentiality emerges-what will happen to the patients if their records are misplaced? –in other words, how can the records be saved from hackers? Plus, reliable information is a prerequisite for timely and effective health care, and the rub is that procuring information has become ever-riskier.

Either satisfactorily or unsatisfactorily, every obstacle can be overcome. For example, in terms of logistics, health care providers can undertake security measures in the form of security checks, codes, access controls, firewalls, passwords, etc. And this can help safe keep data that is fed into the information transferring computers. Moreover, they can invest in effective training of personnel employed to use these technologies, and so on and so forth. Ultimately, it must be realized that HIPAA regulations are still evolving and have a long way to go.


Annas, G. J. (2003). HIPAA regulations-a new era of medical-record privacy? New England Journal of Medicine, 348(15), 1486-1490
Cao, F., Huang, H. K., & Zhou, X. Q. (2003). Medical image security in a HIPAA mandated PACS environment. Computerized medical imaging and graphics, 27(2-3), 185-196.
Ness, R. B., & Joint Policy Committee. (2007). Influence of the HIPAA privacy rule on health research. Jama, 298(18), 2164-2170.

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