What does HIPAA mean to you? To me, it has always meant privacy of my confidential information relative to healthcare. I do remember when HIPAA was passed in 1996 and that it was comprehensive reform of many things other than patient privacy. Back then I was still in the provider/payor role in health care. Today I am just a consumer and I am appalled by the lack of privacy and security of information.
A few days ago I walked into the waiting room of one of my doctors and the person behind the desk asked me piece by piece for the following information:
- Your Name?
- Your address?
- Your phone number?
- Your date of birth?
Does anyone see a problem here? The only identifying information left out for the dozen or so people in the waiting area to hear was my Social Security number. How is this privacy? How was my information secure?
While I’m at it, have you not been told all your life to never sign any document without reading it first? OK, I know we won’t read every word of every page, but shouldn’t we at least SEE the document we are asked to sign? Maybe glance at the title?
Does your doctor’s office or other medical facility have one of these little gadgets? Most of mine do now and I’m asked to sign this Topaz thingy three to five times with each encounter. If I ask, “What am I signing?”, I’m told, but I do not see the document. This may seem like a small thing, but it is very bad business and I wonder how it stands up in court? “Your Honor I do not recall signing a Consent for Treatment” or “When did I sign an agreement to pay? I only signed the little Topaz machine when told, your Honor.”
There are also iPad versions of this process which gather a new patient’s medical history, demographics and consents. These at least show the form being signed and one can see one’s own signature on that form via the screen.
Sorry, I’ve forgotten, but I am sure it is just as important and I’ll get back to you.
“Healthcare is becoming part of information technology.” Bill Maris