From the Tool Belt

Policing Your Own People

By Kirk J. Nahra, CIPP/US

The recent reports of terminations at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center following inappropriate review of celebrity medical records should serve as a reminder to every healthcare entity—and any company with sensitive information. You must police your own people. They need access to information to do their own job, but history has shown that they can’t be trusted entirely. You need a plan to make sure...

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Opinion

Why Healthcare Providers Should Utilize Social Media

By Valita Fredland, CIPP/US

Social media users, and communal Internet forums in general, continue to increase in number. It is a source of a good deal of interesting data—yet, healthcare providers seem to approach social media as one of the contents in Pandora’s box. Because of the potential good to be had from large data analysis, healthcare providers should get engaged through social media and think critically about its potential, while being mindful of potential privacy and legal risks.

Healthcare providers are often slow to adopt new technology; there are good reasons for this cautious approach. Yet, while other industries are early adopters of new technology, healthcare providers can often seem like laggards because their large capital outlays tend to go to equipment and services that directly deliver patient care: monitors, fluoroscopy units, magnetic resonance imaging machines and new private patient rooms.

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From the Toolbelt

What Should You Do If You Receive an Investigatory Letter From the OCR?

By K Royal, CIPP/US, CIPP/E

Opening mail still carries the potential of discovering a treasure. Unfortunately for many organizations, the envelope may contain unpleasant information, namely an investigatory letter from the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the entity that enforces the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

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Opinion

What Does a Five-Year-Old Know that Our Privacy Laws Don’t?

By Stanley W. Crosley, CIPP/US, CIPM

I have three children: twins Rachel and Abby, both aged 16 and Jacob, aged 14. While in my second year at Eli Lilly and Company about a decade ago, my wife, Melisa, had a medical procedure. Jake and I drove Melisa to the doctor’s office for the colonoscopy (although HIPAA does not apply, rules of matrimonial harmony do, so I have received a verbal consent for this disclosure). 

When Melisa had safely exited the car, Jake began the interrogation: Is mama getting a shot? No. Then why is she going to the doctor? To get a picture of her tummy. The outside? (Pause, and fatal decision to be honest.) No, the inside. How? (Longer pause.) A camera. How do they get it inside? (Faint awareness of a prior bad decision, but plowing ahead.) It’s a tiny camera and it goes into her bottom.

Absolute silence.

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