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Health Information Management: More Data, Less Privacy

Health Information Management: More Data, Less Privacy

Three healthcare providers reviewing electronic medical records on computer screen

Electronic medical records make the delivery of healthcare services more efficient and can help primary care physicians and specialists provide coordinated care. However, moving from paper to digital records creates a set of data security challenges. Northwestern College helps students in the greater Chicago area prepare for careers in health management information. Here, we go into detail about healthcare information security and how professionals in the field can improve patient care while protecting privacy.

Data Security in Healthcare

In the United States, patient privacy is protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). First passed in 1996, HIPAA created a set of federal standards for the collection and management of protected health information (PHI). The law also instituted several changes that affected medical spending accounts, life insurance coverage, and group health plans. Two main components of HIPAA relate to data privacy:

  • HIPAA Privacy Rule: This federal regulation requires data security policies for PHI and limits how information is shared with third parties.
  • HIPAA Security Rule: This rule sets guidelines for the creation and maintenance of digital systems for patient health records.

What Is Protected Health Information?

HIPAA requires all healthcare providers to have systems in place to safeguard any kind of information that relates to an individual’s medical history or current care. PHI includes a patient’s:

  • Name
  • Social Security number
  • Mailing address
  • Telephone number
  • Email address
  • Account or medical record number
  • IP address

As more and more healthcare data is collected and stored, both medical practices and health insurance providers need information managers and technicians to handle these large volumes of data. Health information managers must follow policies to prevent security breaches that could result in data leaks. Additionally, healthcare organizations have to make sure they’re up to date on the latest privacy requirements. Whenever they work with an IT vendor or another third party, they must ensure these partners are also in compliance with HIPAA.

Preparing for a Career in Health Information Technology

Health information management is the field of healthcare concerned with the management, protection, and analysis of medical information. The goal of this field is to improve the quality of patient care. Health information managers work in all kinds of settings, including hospitals, surgery centers, family medical practices, and even government agencies and non-profit organizations.

Northwestern College offers a Bachelor of Science in health information management. Designed for students who hold an associate degree in health information technology, this bachelor’s degree is offered 100% online, making it easier for working professionals to continue their education. Students complete coursework in:

  • Financial administration
  • Human resources and leadership
  • Coding classifications
  • Risk management and compliance
  • Regulatory reporting
  • Database architecture and security

The program prepares students for entry-level health information management jobs focused on safe data storage, analysis, and security. Students who complete this degree program are eligible to sit for the American Health Information Management Association’s Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) exam. In addition to a comprehensive curriculum taught by experienced instructors, Northwestern College offers in-person and virtual career services to help students prepare for interviews, connect with potential employers, and hone their resumes and cover letters.

Prepare for a Career in Healthcare at Northwestern College

If you’re looking for career-focused education in the high-demand healthcare sector, Northwestern College is here to help. Located in Oak Lawn, Illinois, and serving the Greater Chicago area, Northwestern College is committed to student success. In addition to the bachelor’s program in health information management, the college offers associate degree programs in:

Financial aid is available to students who qualify. To learn more about Northwestern College and the programs available, request information today.