As technology bridges the gap between patients and clinicians, allowing remote and personalized forms of medical care, new paradigms of health-care delivery must address issues of privacy and security that arise with sharing data over the Internet. These issues are especially relevant with the advent of medical wearables or wearable health-care devices, which have seen an explosion in the marketplace and a continuing growing popularity. A good outsourcing company can ensure that your medical practice or health-care facility stays up-to-date with the latest protocols, and that your patients’ information complies with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
According to HIPAA, to protect health information from hackers or other privacy breaches, no personal or protected health information should be identifiable from data in electronic or digital form. This includes a person’s name, address, phone number, medical record number, and Social Security number, while the data in question may be a physical examination, lab test result, or even a vital sign like someone’s blood pressure.
Wearable Devices Risk Patients’ Privacy
In the new age of wearable devices, patients attach monitors to their clothing or directly to their body to measure and record certain signs or symptoms, such as heart rate, glucose level, and other test results. This information is then transferred electronically to a central database where a health-care professional reads and interprets the results and recommends treatment accordingly. Remote patient monitoring has revolutionized the health-care industry, helping overcome time and geographical barriers to treatment and allowing patients with chronic conditions to be monitored from their home environments. In turn, the technology has reduced hospital admissions, emergency room visits, and physician office visits while early detection of problems has increased.
Addressing the use of wearable health-care devices in relation to privacy breaches, HIPPA was updated in 2013. The law states that information decrypted by a third party is considered a breach; however, if the information was accessed but not decrypted, the data are considered safeguarded. When outsourcing health-care law compliance, professionals should be aware of security issues applicable to wearable devices, including informed consent, close monitoring of shared files and data transmission, background information on those with access to the data, as well as extra algorithm encryption methods.