As healthcare increasingly goes high-tech, any number of concerns is accompanying that transformation. None is as stirring, however, as the debate about patient data security, especially in light of looming Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations governing that area. Where is patient data and what is clinical engineering’s role in ensuring its safety?

 Time was, talk of security invited sparring over the concept of Social Security or cooing over some little guy’s attachment to his security blanket.

More recently, issues surrounding airport security booked first-class passage on the national radar.

In these days of high-tech healthcare, however, security more aptly applies to patient information — and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations governing the security of that information.

We’re talking security, not privacy
HIPAA’s guidelines for privacy and security appear to overlap and thus confuse, yet the concepts differ in their application.

The more narrow privacy rule relates to an individual’s desire to control access to individual identifiable patient information (IDPI), also known as personal health information.

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The security requirement as now written, meanwhile, embraces a broader mission: to protect all patient health data that is either maintained on a device or transmitted by a device. And to limit access to data to authorized persons.