This is not new. HIPAA laws went into effect in early 2000. So, why was I tossing and turning last night? First, because I do that. Second, because come September 23, the “crack down” begins.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely understand, respect and believe in the need to protect patient’s privacy. I think it is a crime that people’s health history is used against them in so many arenas of our advanced society. In fact, I go to great and painful lengths to protect my patients information: not just in my office, but in my blog. We just spent tens of thousands of dollars on a fire/flood proof room for paper records. The entire building could be turned to dust and not one shred of paper in a medical chart would be harmed. We installed “medical grade” insulation (there is such a thing) to sound proof our exam rooms. During construction, I stood on the other side of a wall and screamed nonsense to my GC to ensure that not one word was decipherable.
So, when I am told by the powers that be in our government to “circle 9/23/13 on my calender” because they are coming after me and I better be ready, I am, to say the least irritated.
First, the consequences of a breach could be huge: up to $1.5 million fine plus jail time. Second, my/our intentions don’t really count for much. So, just because we mean to, try our very best to, and spend tons of money to protect information, we could still be out of compliance and worse IN JAIL?? Seriously, does anyone else see the problem with this?
In my daily work, I wake up every day, slug coffee and say a short prayer (honest to God truth.) It is this: Please, God, let me do good by everyone I see today.
Never once has that prayer been countered by an evil: Muhahhhaahhaaaa, I think I will disburse someones medical information today.
I spent most of yesterday afternoon switching to a HIPAA compliant email provider. It took hours to go through the process. There were glitches. There was frustration. I may have hung up on one customer service rep. “What the hell do you mean I have already used my 10 free hours of support time? I called you 10 minutes ago!!” In the end, we have a compliant and secure way to email our patients. That can only be good.
I just wish I didn’t have this nervous, gotta-poop, kind of feeling about the whole thing. I would really like to wake up, drink my coffee, say my prayer and go do the work I live my life to do–without worrying about how I would survive in an orange jump suit for months at a time.