HIPAA and the History of Healthcare Software Standards

According to PEW Research Center, Millennials have surpassed all generations as the largest workforce population in history.

This fact can mean many different things to many different industries, but in the end it will all center on technology. As we all know, Millennials (even Non-Millennials for that matter) are very dependent on technology and software, but how does this translate to specific industries? For companies that work in healthcare related fields it means creating Healthcare software that is not only efficient, but also meets government regulations.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), enforced by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), was created in 1996 by the Federal Government to put guidelines in place to mandate how patient information is to be stored, transferred, and released. In conjunction to HIPAA, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) a department within the DHHS, passed the HITECH Act as well as taking responsibility for overseeing the adoption of health information technology and the promotion of nationwide health information exchange to improve health care[1].

Looking historically, this digitization and sharing of the information for the Healthcare Industry was inevitable. Beginning in the 1960s with Medicare and Medicaid, hospitals started merging information to a shared mainframe with the intention of cutting down on the expenses of IT drivers, computers, software and storage. The 70s brought about small computers allowing for departmental networks to be formed, which adversely created pockets of unconnected technology. In need of better communication between departments, the 80s led to network solutions that joined financial and clinical systems permitting hospitals to be reimbursed on a DRG coding system. In the 1990s, IT in the Healthcare Industry was dictated by both rivalry and partnership leading to hospitals wanting to integrate with providers and care management companies as well as integrate data and reporting. Embarking on the new decade, the 2000s reinforced medical digitation with the spread of mobile technology and the introduction of the cloud[2].

Presently, the next step for companies that need healthcare software and technology is finding a way to create new software, manage this software and store all of the information that is being transferred from the software while still making patients feel valued. This is where HIPAA and HITECH standards can become very important pending the sensitivity of the data being handled by the software.

The healthcare and medical industry is quickly migrating from an age of handwritten documents; prescriptions, medical diagnosis and bills, physician referrals, etc., to the digitization of documents. This becomes evident as 94% of pharmacies and 53% of office-based physicians use e-prescriptions and 44% of hospitals use Electronic Medical Records (EMR)[3].

Check out our whitepaper, “The Medical Software Evolution,” to learn more about creating HIPAA compliant software!

[1] “About ONC” https://www.healthit.gov/newsroom/about-onc

[2] “Healthcare Information Systems: A Look at the Past, Present, and Future” https://www.healthcatalyst.com/healthcare-information-systems-past-present-future

[3] John Lynn, “Almost 80% Hospitals Participation in HER Incentives – Infographic” http://www.hospitalemrandehr.com/2013/11/11/almost-80-hospital-participation-in-ehr-incentives-infographic/