The regulation of the provision of healthcare services is very important, today, because health care professionals have access to private information of patients that exposes the latter to the risk of information breaches and unauthorized access to their private information. In order to protect the rights of patients, a number of legislative initiatives have been implemented. In this respect, it is worth mentioning the creation of the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) and the implementation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The JCAHO sets standards for healthcare organizations and issues accreditations to organizations that meet those standards the JCAHO conducts periodic on-site surveys to verify that an accredited organization substantially complies with the JCAHO standards and continuously makes efforts to improve the care and services it provides (Limentani, 395). As for the HIPAA, this act focuses on two domains: on the one hand, the HIPPA protects health insurance coverage for workers and their families when they change or lose their jobs; on the other hand, the HIPPA requires the establishment of national standards for electronic healthcare transactions and national identifiers for providers, health insurance plans, and employers (Limentani, 395).
Both the JCAHO and HIPAA are important for hospitals because they do not only establish standards of healthcare services and protect rights of patients but they also control the performance of healthcare organizations and stimulate them to improve the quality of healthcare services and security of private information of their customers.
The major purpose of the JCAHO to ensure that hospitals and other healthcare organizations meet the established standards, while the HIPAA controls the availability of healthcare services due to insurance coverage issues and the security of private information, the breaches of which can be harmful for patients as well as healthcare organizations and other parties concerned.
Basically, the JCAHO follows the guidelines based on the “elements of performance”ť, which clearly define the established standards (Limentani, 397). In fact, the elements of performance are expectations that establish the broad framework that the JCAHO surveyors use to evaluate a facility of performance. The HIPAA’s guidelines are based on the norms of the act which clearly define all the issues the act covers, including insurance and security of information.
In such a situation, the department should be always prepared for an unannounced visit because, being unprepared, the department can face a risk of being exposed to sanctions imposed on the department and healthcare organization by the JCAHO. Hence, the department should always meet the established standards and provide healthcare services in accordance with the standards established by the JCAHO and the HIPAA.
However, some violations can occur occasionally, but, as a rule, they are insignificant and do not really violate the rights of patients or expose their private information to the risk of breaches. On the other hand, there may occur situations, which are very seldom, when the private information of patients can be available to strangers. For instance, a close relative, such as a wife/husband can see the information concerning patient which may expose him to the risk of violation of his privacy right or security of his private information.
The regulations covering the image display and patient data forbidden the availability of the private information to non-staff persons or even personnel who are involved directly in the treatment of the patient. In other words, it is only the doctor that conducts the treatment of the patient can have full access to his private information.
The penalties for the violation of these norms can lead to the deprivation of healthcare professionals and organization of their licenses. But the regulations of the HIPAA are quite complicated and it is not always possible to comply with the HIPAA.