HIPAA in the 21st Century

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Why is this important?
This 2-page editorial from JAMA is an insightful look at the changing landscape of health data protection. In an era of social media, personal tweets and growing commercialization of health data, the often ungainly introduction of HIPAA’s privacy and confidentiality protections for Americans will need updating.  The authors make a strong case for significant changes to HIPAA including possibly following the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation.

The ways in which commercialization of informal health information and “Big Data” applications from public health data mining will require health management vendors to treat individual health data differently than they do now.

A close read of this short editorial will update program managers on the newly emerging issues that will need to be addressed in the next wave of legislative protections for patients and consumers.  Many new legislative initiatives that have relevance here are identified along with likely next steps.

What can you do with this resource?
Here’s what you could do with this editorial:

  • Abstract the highlights of the editorial and summarize this information for senior management.
  • Provide a summary of the highlights of the editorial for your benefits and HR staff.
  • Use the information to make a case for examining how your wellness program and organization addresses current and future HIPAA changes.
  • Use the information to develop communication messages to employees and their family members about the importance of being careful with their use of personal health information.

What was the most important thing I learned from this resource?
The most important thing I learned from this study is… what we think of today as “safe” practices for the handling of personal health information may need significant re-thinking in the increasing cyberization of our main communication channels. There is a need to be diligent in protecting our health information.

In summary, this is an insightful look at the changing context of protecting employees from unauthorized disclosure of personal health information while balancing “Big Data” and commercial utility of selected health data. Our approach clearly needs some careful updating.

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