Smart phones, tablets, and the ability to wirelessly connect to files and other information can enhance service to patients and clients—but they can also create serious problems if providers aren't aware of how misuse of the technology could violate provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). A new webpage at the federal HealthIT site sponsored by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is aimed at helping health care professionals understand the privacy implications of portable devices that have become nearly ubiquitous.
The "Your Mobile Device and Health Information Privacy and Security" webpage includes text and video designed to help individual providers learn about risks of handheld and wireless technologies, and steps that can be taken to maintain privacy. Though not intended to serve as the definitive source to ensure compliance with state and federal law, the webpage includes tips on how to secure mobile devices, how to reduce the risk of unauthorized access of information in the event of theft, and how to develop organizational policies and procedures around portable devices. The webpage also features links to more detailed documents from the HHS Office for Civil Rights Health Information Privacy.
APTA's HIPAA webpage can help you stay on top of privacy issues. APTA members can also access a July 2013 Learning Center webinar that discusses new HIPAA requirements including rules about the use of mobile technology.
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