Anybody in a medical field is obligated to protect patient privacy. Speech pathologists must remain compliant with HIPAA like other medical professionals. As you will learn in your speech pathology CEUs, HIPAA may be more complicated than it appears on the surface.
What Is HIPAA?
The intention of HIPAA is to protect the personal medical information of your clients. For instance, it seems like common knowledge among health professionals that they should not contact anybody else about your healthcare information.
At the same time, people should have access to their own health information. A patient has the right to ask how their data was used. Patients and clients can also file a complaint if they feel that their rights have been violated by a medical professional.
What Is Protected Health Information?
Protected health information, or PHI, is the information that speech pathologists must keep confidential. Client names, birthdays, appointment data, email addresses, and insurance information are all considered protected. Photos and other personal information are also included.
Speech pathologists may not reveal information about a client’s health status, treatment, or prognosis. In fact, these professionals are not allowed to discuss a client’s payment status either. These regulations apply to both paper and electronic data.
When Can Speech Pathologists Disclose PHI?
Speech pathologists and other medical professionals are allowed to disclose protected health information only to designated representatives for a client or patient. When data is reported, professionals must inform their clients how the information will be shared.
On the other hand, speech pathologists must also report data to the Department of Health and Human Services to remain in compliance with certain policies.
When Does HIPAA Become More Complicated?
When you learn about HIPAA compliance in your speech pathology CEUs, you may discover that keeping information private becomes increasingly difficult when you work with outside organizations and contractors to manage data. Your company maintains responsibility for data breaches and leaked information.
Technology also makes HIPAA compliance tricky. Changes in technology and regulations mean that you need to stay up to date as things evolve. You and your office will need to work together to create administrative safeguards that protect the rights of your clients.
What Happens If You Violate HIPAA?
Penalties are strict for violations. You could end up paying $50,000 per HIPAA violation. You could find yourself spending millions of dollars over the course of running a business.
Of course, violating HIPAA also means that patients lose trust in your practice. Speech pathologists are trusted in the community, and they must demonstrate that clients should continue to trust them.
You are wise to consider revisiting your knowledge about privacy and HIPAA. Speech pathology CEUs offer an excellent way to improve your understanding. Speech-language pathology courses are available to help you move forward with your career.