How effective is the HIPAA Privacy Rule?

A look at how effective the HIPAA Privacy Rule has been since its operative date of compliance, which was, April 14, 2003, displays a very interesting observation. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office for Civil Rights (OCR), which is the body that aggrieved individuals are expected to call upon for redress in matters of compliance with HIPAA Privacy Rule Summary, seems to be the very organization that is the source of the bottleneck to its implementation.

As reported in the Wall Street Journal, the OCR seems to be overwhelmed by the amount of cases that need its attention and has therefore been noted as ignoring many complaints. A huge backlog exists and privacy violation complaints keep piling up at their offices. Medical-privacy rules related complaints that were filed between April of 2003 and November of 2006 amounted to 23,886 and no enforcement action had been taken over these. Investigations by the HHS Office of Civil Rights revealed that between 2005 and 2008 there was a high rate of unauthorized members of staff, who did not possess any genuine reason, retrieving the Protected Health Information of patients.

Charting the Success of HIPAA Privacy Rule implementation

Currently, the success rate of HIPAA Laws, in terms of compliance and benefit accrued from implementation of the same, needs to be viewed against a backdrop of the hurdles that the implementation of such an act was bound to face and the uptake by the covered entities despite the hurdles and difficulties. The importance of HIPAA Privacy Rule cannot be underestimated, not only to the covered entities but also to all affected by the said Act.
Initially, it did seem like HIPAA Privacy Rule was only out to look after the interests of the individuals who are identifiable by the Protected Health Information, but over the years it has dawned on all concerned that other benefits have accrued from implementation of the Act.

Privacy matters aside, covered entities did face difficulties in the initial stages of the uptake of HIPAA Privacy Rule, but a majority of them have come to see its importance to the medical and health care industry. This Act marked a major step in the advancement of national standards in the disclosure and use of Protected Health Information (PHI), whereby, it helped protect the confidentiality, privacy and security of personal health information.