December 6, 2018, MGMA Online  


Protecting a patient’s privacy is a top priority for medical practices. As technologies advance and HIPAA laws tighten, healthcare leaders need to be aware of how these technologies may affect their industry.

According to 
Healthcare Analytics Review, the most common way health systems are failing to protect data is “how the data flow(s) through the environment and the risks of each step.” New technologies such as wearable smart watches and voice assistants like Alexa and Siri, are affecting how health systems meet with their patients.

The issue with wearable smart watches is the data collected by the watches such as calories consumed, steps taken, and heart rate are not protected by HIPAA. But a problem may arise, according to Healthcare Analytics Review, when a patient wears a Fitbit and “downloads a smartwatch app that monitors health data points that are then integrated into an electronic health record.”
By taking it to this next step, the article states, “the developer is generating, collecting, storing, and sharing data on behalf of a covered entity – and, as a business associate, it must abide by HIPAA.”

Similarly, voice assistance technologies like Alexa and Siri do not currently comply with HIPAA. The most important thing to remember as a health system is that with the ever-expanding realm of technology, there needs to be a heightened awareness of how it can affect one’s HIPAA compliance.

Want to learn more about how technology is affecting the healthcare industry? Click on this MGMA Insight Article.

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