This post was originally published on July 24th. Since this piece of our website was not working for all viewers, we're republishing some selected posts this week.
Protecting patient privacy is a good thing. If a patient's medical information gets into the wrong hands, it can make it hard to get a job, complicate relationships, and have financial consequences -- so privacy and HIPAA are important and serious.
But the truth is that HIPAA is causing healthcare provider burnout. As we've talked about in other posts, up to half of physicians are burned out, which has real ramifications: physicians experiencing burnout are more prone to errors, less empathetic, and more likely to quit practicing altogether
And HIPAA is one factor contributing to this burnout, by:
- Disconnecting you from patients. HIPAA-induced wariness about sharing information with patients or patients' families can start to create barriers to interacting. With so many rules about what is allowed to be shared, to whom, and when, some providers shut down.
- Wasting time with extra forms and EMRs. Most providers report that paperwork (even if it's electronic "paperwork") is at an all-time high, and HIPAA is a strong driver.
- Causing anxiety about getting in trouble. These days, even a simple conversation, phone call, or (gasp!) text message can start to feel hugely risky. That stress contributes to the overall stress of providing healthcare and accelerates burnout.
So what is to be done? Well, there's a lot you can do, actually. First of all, when you acknowledge the ways HIPAA creates challenges in your practice, it makes you less likely to blame the people around you. Second, when you notice ways that HIPAA is making connection difficult, you can address it in your workflow. For instance, many of ClickCare's users tell us that ClickCare saved them a lot of stress -- as well as time -- because they didn't have to "reinvent the wheel" around HIPAA-safe collaboration. And finally, when you accept that HIPAA rules and constraints might be creating a feeling of disconnection with patients, you can get creative about ways to connect with them even within those constraints.
As with most things, the first step is recognizing the dynamic. Like William James said, "Acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming the consequences of any misfortune." HIPAA is no exception.
For an overview of the HIPAA/HITECH Omnibus Rule 2013, click the button:
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