Protecting My Personal Health Information

In a world where everything is driven by technology, we must continuously keep the protection of information – particularly health information – at the forefront of our minds.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, commonly known as HIPAA, ensures that health information maintained by entities covered under its rules are protected and secured. These entities include physician practices, health care clearinghouses (hospitals, academic medical centers, etc.) and health plans. Recently, a great deal of discussion has been focused on patients having more access to their health information, as pre-approved patient portals and mobile applications have made it easier for patients to share their information across providers.

While HIPAA protects information shared within these pre-approved resources, the question becomes what happens to the health information that’s maintained by the patient. With so many consumers relying on smart phones and tablets, it’s become more and more popular for patients to store their personal health information on these devices and other applications. While HIPAA does require that the privacy and security of health information be ensured by the entities it covers, the same rule does not apply when the information is stored on and shared to personal devices.

To safeguard your personal health information, it’s important to have a good understanding of the vulnerability of the information you maintain and how it may be shared when stored on your smart devices. While it’s not possible to delete your digital footprint (the history of your online activity) completely, there are steps you can take to reduce the information that’s collected and shared. Below are a few helpful tips:

  • Just don’t do it! The best way to avoid having your personal health information shared across applications is to avoid saving it to smart devices in the first place. Doing your research to determine which application may be used to protect your information is very important.
  • Avoid sharing location information. Turning off the location settings on your device reduces the likelihood that apps will be able to access the name, location, date, and time when you visited your doctor’s office. This also helps prevent your information from being shared across other applications.
  • Know what information your app will have access to. Before quickly agreeing to the terms of a new application, first review the permissions to see what it is you’re authorizing the app to access to.  
  • Avoid logging into an app with a social media account. Use your email instead. By logging into apps with your social media account, you are consenting to the exchange of information between that account and your app – and the information can flow both ways.
  • Update your apps. As updates come out for your various applications, download the updates, as out-of-date software is at an increased risk of being hacked.
  • Before disposing, delete. When you get a new cell phone or tablet, it’s important to ensure that all your personal health information is completely removed from the old device. Do your best to delete all data, and remove and destroy the SIM card if it’s not going into your new device.

Your personal health information is one of your most important assets, and with so much of it now digital, it’s vital that you keep it safe. Be sure to take the time to use a few simple steps to help protect it, and yourself.

Capital Health Plan - Medical Records Frequently Asked Questions

Q4. I am the subscriber on the plan and I need to request medical records for my spouse and minor children on my plan. Am I able to do so?

A4. Yes, with a signed Authorization to Disclose Protected Health Information form. All dependents over the age of 18 will need to complete and sign their own authorization form. The form for minor children may be completed and signed by the subscriber on the plan. If a minor is age 13 or older and has super confidential information in the chart (such as HIV/AIDS, STDs, treatment for alcohol/substance abuse, and/or treatment for pregnancy), the child must also sign the authorization form.

Q5. May I give verbal authorization for my medical records to be released?

A5. No. Capital Health Plan requires that all request for medical records be submitted in writing on a valid Authorization to Disclose Protected Health Information form. 

Q6. What is the processing time for a medical record request?

A6.  Medical record request are completed within 10 business days of receipt of a valid Authorization to Disclose Protected Health Information form.  

Sourced By: Healthwise
Reviewed By: Capital Health Plan Physicians Group
Posted: December 6, 2023

2023-12-07 16:00:00