By Matt Schlossberg
Healthcare privacy and information security is at a crossroads.
Increased interoperability, portability, and connectivity of health information presents opportunities to improve patient care across the healthcare continuum. Regulations such as the Office of the National Coordinator’s final rule on information blocking have empowered patients with unprecedented control over their own medical information. Advances in software and technology enable providers and payers to store and exchange larger and more complex data sets
However, each of these opportunities presents enormous challenges to the mission of privacy and security professionals to safeguard protected health information.
The response to unanticipated events like the COVID-19 pandemic have only made achieving this goal more difficult. Massively scaling up COVID-19 suppression tactics, like contact tracing and disease surveillance, and relaxing HIPAA regulations to accommodate the expansion of telehealth and other virtual services, presents new vulnerabilities to sensitive patient information.
AHIMA aims to equip health information professionals with the necessary resources to adapt to new realities, modernize standards and regulations, and empower them to provide evidence-based expertise to professionals in every domain of the healthcare ecosystem.
This month, AHIMA is placing a special focus on privacy and security. Here is a quick guide to the content:
- The August issue of the Journal of AHIMA features Privacy at the Crossroads, a collection of five stories that examine information privacy and security through myriad lenses, including the COVID-19 response, hospital and health system models, the development of privacy regulations across the globe, patient identification and matching, and mitigating the threat of cyberattacks. We also have curated and resurfaced the best privacy and security content we have published in 2020. You can access Privacy at the Crossroads here.
- AHIMA’S Public Policy and Government Affairs office has released three policy statements related to this topic, including patient identification and matching; the use of policy to address existing privacy, confidentiality, and security gaps in the protection of health information held by HIPAA non-covered entities; and the use of policy and other tools to realize the benefits of greater integration of clinical and administrative data. Please access our policy statements here.
- We also are excited to announce a new webinar series on privacy and information security. Moderated by Laurie A. Rinehart-Thompson, JD, RHIA, CHP, FAHIMA, professor and director of the health information management and systems program at The Ohio State University. The series kicks off Aug. 19, at 12pm (CST) with a deep dive into privacy before and after HIPAA. Save the date and register for “What Regulates Health Information Privacy?” today.
- Access a free, on demand webinar on how healthcare organizations identify and mitigate cybersecurity threats during the COVID-19 pandemic. Cybersecurity & Health-ISAC’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic is hosted by Errol Weiss, Chief Security Officer, H-ISAC (Health Information Sharing and Analysis Center) and A. Andrews Dean, CPHIMS, CHDA, CPHI, CPPM, CPC, Healthcare Informaticist & Value-Based Health Analyst Health IT Consultant. Complimentary registration can be found here.
Be sure to follow AHIMA on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook for content updates throughout the month and to connect with like-minded peers on topics related to privacy and security.
A Note of Thanks
AHIMA would like to express sincere thanks to the health information experts who volunteered their time and informed perspectives to the creation of these content pieces, especially members of the Privacy and Security Practice Council.
Matt Schlossberg (firstname.lastname@example.org) is editor of the Journal of AHIMA.