WHAT DOES HIPAA STAND FOR?
HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance
Portability & Accountability Act of 1996 and its purpose is
to provide health care coverage continuity, ensure greater accountability
and simplify administrative functions within the health care industry.
HIPAA objectives include extensive new requirements
for privacy standards that include the transmission of health
information in electronic, paper and oral forms.
This site will provide you with a brief overview
of HIPAA. However, its primary focus will be dedicated to explaining
that portion of the HIPAA mandate that pertains to oral privacy.
Sound masking may assist corporate entities in meeting the oral
privacy requirements for HIPAA and it can further protect personal
health information that is communicated orally.
WHY ARE WE TALKING ABOUT HIPAA ORAL PRIVACY?
Under Section 164.502 of the Federal
Register’s Department of Health and Human Services final
ruling on Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health
Information it states that:
“Protected Health Information includes individually identifiable
information in any form, including information that is
transmitted ORALLY, or in written or electronic form.
This Privacy Ruling requires that covered health care entities
make reasonable efforts to limit the use or disclosure of protected
health information to the minimum necessary.”
WHO IS AFFECTED?
All types of health care organizations will
be affected by HIPAA legislation including:
> Physician Offices
> Medical Clinics
> Public Health Authorities
> Life Insurers
> Billing Agencies
> Information System Vendors
> Service Organizations
> Military Medical Bases
As defined by the December 2000 Privacy Rule,
there are also a number of hybrid organizations that must also
comply. These are corporations that are not specifically in the
health care industry but that may engage in “covered functions”
such as those that relate to the entity’s operation as a
health plan, health care provider, or health care clearinghouse.
Other entities that are affected include those that operate on-site
health clinics that conduct standard HIPAA transactions, as well
as insurance carriers that have multiple business lines that include
both health insurance and other lines such as general liability,
property, and casualty insurance.
WHAT IS ORAL PRIVACY
As defined by ASTM (American Society of Testing
and Materials) standards; speech privacy is achieved when the
measured Articulation Index (AI) is less than .20'.
The Annual Book of ASTM Standards
defines Articulation Index as “a computational method for
predicting the intelligibility of speech for talkers and listeners.
The Articulation Index is a weighted fraction representing, for
a given speech frequency band and noise condition, the effective
proportion of the standard speech signal that is available at
the listener’s ear for conveying speech intelligibility.”
When designing facilities it is
important to consider the level of background sound within the
environment. Without the appropriate levels of background sound
masking, conversations can be easily understood.
In health care, many transactions involving
the discussion of personal health information take place at
pharmacy counters, reception areas, admission desks, nurses'
stations, consultation areas, physician offices and waiting
rooms. To protect the privacy of these conversations, background
sound masking must be introduced to render speech unintelligible
and thus provide an acceptable level of oral privacy.
To View (on this site) the
HIPAA Statutory Background including information on rules
and regulations, uses and disclosures of PHI, compliance
and enforcement, compliance deadlines, and supplementary