What is Protected Health Information (PHI)?
Today, the term protected health information (PHI) refers to personally identifiable healthcare data generated and maintained by healthcare providers. This information is also created, stored, and maintained under the strict observance of standards set by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to maintain confidentiality. This information can also include a complete summary of patient’s medical history, the type of pharmacological or non-pharmacological intervention prescribed and relevant payment information.
What are privacy, security, and confidentiality?
Existing codes and standards, such as HIPAA, were formulated as novel policy measures designed to address relevant issues such as privacy, security, and confidentiality concerns often associated with the integration of technology in healthcare. Privacy refers to the individual right to access, store and protect one’s private information. One of the most common privacy concerns present today in healthcare is the unauthorized access of patient’s medical records, usually stored in the form of electronic data (Thieme, 2016). Security, on the other hand, refers to relevant contingency measures undertaken with the sole aim of ensuring of protecting data and may include passwords for devices containing patient’s medical records. Confidentiality, on the other hand, is a healthcare provider’s personal and professional obligation to keep patients’ medical information private.
Importance Of Interdisciplinary Collaboration To Safeguard Sensitive Electronic Health Information
Interdisciplinary collaboration can also serve as one of the most important tools in protecting patients’ private data and safeguarding the integrity of sensitive electronic health information. This is necessary today given the level of sophistication witnessed recently among cyber criminals and the subsequent implications of data loss. Interdisciplinary collaboration, therefore, creates a feasible system where each member of the healthcare team has a comprehensive understanding of their roles and responsibilities. It is often a product of collaborative efforts between nursing, medicine, and information technology (IT) to guarantee the integration of relevant administrative and technical safeguards.
What Evidence Relating To Social Media Usage And Protected Health Information Do Interprofessional Team Members Need To Be Aware Of?
Healthcare professionals must also always remain conscious of social media use and PHI, especially since it can lead to the termination of a practitioner in the case of inappropriate use. This level of awareness always ensures that they are always aware of the potential risks and implications of inappropriate social media use, especially as it related to PHI. A recent study by the Journal of Medical Internet Research now indicates that over 60 % of healthcare professionals working today have reported witnessing inappropriate social media behavior (Menkus, 2017). This reality has now prompted leading healthcare institutions to impose strict codes relating to PHI, resulting in the termination of nurses who happen to engage in the inappropriate sharing of patient data on social media.
How many nurses have been terminated for inappropriate social media use in the United States? What types of sanctions have health care organizations imposed on interdisciplinary team members who have violated social media policies? What have been the financial penalties assessed against health care organizations for inappropriate social media use? What evidence-based strategies have health care organizations employed to prevent or reduce confidentiality, privacy, and security breaches, particularly related to social media usage?
At the present moment, health care organizations have moved to impose a set of distinct sanctions on interdisciplinary team members who happen to violate social media policies. The sanctions typically vary from one healthcare organization to another but are almost exclusively dependent upon the frequency and severity of the said violation (Kindt, 2013). This process may often begin with the issuing of verbal or written warnings to offenders to inform them of their PHI and the risk of suspension or termination if such behavior persists. Repeat offenders may then face possible termination or suspension if they continue to breach standard policies on patient privacy and other ethical violations. They may also face legal action for this type and, if convicted, may be required to pay fines or also face criminal charges if their actions brought upon direct harm to the patient.
Healthcare organizations have recently resorted to the integration of evidence-based practice (EBP) solutions to prevent inappropriate social media use in relation to Protected Health Information. This is especially relevant considering the massive financial penalties imposed against health care organizations for inappropriate social media use within the clinical environment. Although the fining of health care organizations for inappropriate social media news is not new, the actual penalty may vary depending on the circumstances of each case. For instance, in 2019 the then Office for Civil Rights (OCR) fined a hospital $2.2 million for sharing patient’s Protected Health Information on social media without their consent and the necessary safeguards (HHS, 2020). Today, the most common EBP strategies employed by health care organizations to safeguard patients’ PHI. These include the creation and implementation of robust rules and regulations guiding social media use among clinical staff and a clear outline of consequences for any such violations.