HIPAA / HITECH Acts cleans up Healthcare System
“I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of
overtreatment [treatment more than what is required], and therapeutic nihilism[a contention that
curing people, or societies, of their ills by treatment is impossible.]…I will respect the privacy of my
patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know” - excerpts from the
Hippocratic Oath taken by doctors and medical professionals pledging to practice medicine ethically.
Medical profession is considered as the noblest of the professions as it deals with the protection of life
from diseases and ailments.. Doctors are expected to act with conscience and in the best interest of those
who approach them.
However, the incidents that are happening around the world are disheartening.Doctors and other
Healthcare providersare increasingly seen involved in health care related frauds. Recently the law
enforcement agencies cracked down one of the biggest healthcare frauds in the US. What is disturbing
about this crime is that the huge Medicare fraud, estimated at $295 million, involvedaround 100 doctors,
nurses and other healthcare professionals.
There couldn’thave been a much better time for the US government to enact new laws and modify existing
laws to curb corruption in the healthcare field.
Unethical means of earning money has seeped so deeply into the healthcare compliance system that
tougher laws and equally tougher measures to see it being implemented were necessary to free the
healthcare system from the fraudsters, scammers and organized criminal gangs.In the form of HIPAA
HITECH Acts,Authorities hope to bring about a change in the healthcare system by toughening these
The HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act)was enacted in 1996 to:
· enhance portability and continuity of health insurance coverage
· cut down costs through enhanced efficiency, effectiveness and standardization
· facilitate easy exchange of electronic data
· ensure that personal health information(PHI)privacy is well protected
The HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act) was enacted in 2009
to further strengthen the HIPAA Act. The objective of introducing the HITECH Act was toencourage the
use of technology in the healthcare industryto ensure PHI privacy. It provides incentives to those who use
electronic health records and penalties to those who fail to be HITECH compliant.
Since the US government toughened their stand on proper implementation of HIPAA/ HITECH Acts, all
medical practices and their Business Associates—including doctors, dentists, chiropractors, nurses,
psychologists and other professionals whohandle Patient Health Information (PHI) have no other choice,
but to achieve and maintain security and compliance with the regulations.
Also read on - PCI Compliance, IT Compliance