HIPAA poses threat to innovative healthcare technology

HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, was enacted back in 1996 as a way to protect the privacy of individual patients, among other things. It all sounds good in theory, but in practice HIPAA creates more problems than it fixes. The regulatory burden of the act creates a black hole of endless tail-chasing as healthcare facilities spend precious resources ensuring that they’re in compliance. Trust me when I say that the red tape is labor intensive and costly.

It seems that I’m not the only one that thinks HIPAA is problematic for healthcare. According to a recent article at mobihealthnews:

“…the regulations [HIPAA] still are not flexible enough to keep up with the pace of innovation in digital health, according to a newly published commentary in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).** Plus, the authors contend, the new requirement that business associates such as vendors be subject to the same HIPAA requirements as covered entities – healthcare providers, insurance companies and the like – poses a serious threat to startup companies…the final rule may impose an unfunded mandate for organizations, which ironically may impede adoption of innovation in mobile health,” wrote Dr. C. Jason Wang, Stanford University, associate professor of pediatrics at the Stanford University Center for Policy, Outcomes and Prevention, and Delphine J. Huang, a medical student at the University of California, San Francisco.”

I understand the spirit of HIPAA, but like all bureaucratic solutions to simple problems it lacks common sense.  Is HIPAA really necessary? I believe you could make an equally solid case for or against it depending on where you fall on regulatory necessity. Regardless of your view, it’s obvious to me that HIPAA needs a serious overhaul.


**The commentary in JAMA is available for free and can be found here.

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