What happens when advances in technology raise the ethical bar?

Nick Culbertson (nick@protenus.com) is Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder at Protenus in Baltimore, MD.

The HIPAA Privacy Statute and related interpretive regulations—together known as the Privacy Rule—create a federal set of rights for patients to their protected health information. The rule translates to a simple premise: That the only person who can access your medical information is you.

As an exceptions statute, the Privacy Rule starts with a broad prohibition against the use or disclosure of protected patient information, unless the use or disclosure meets one or more exceptions. Most obviously, anyone providing medical treatment, such as your doctor, fits within the treatment exception to this broad prohibition. The Privacy Rule’s counterpart—the HIPAA Security Rule—requires organizations to audit access to patient data to ensure that such accesses are proper. Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) make it possible for healthcare compliance professionals to audit each access to health data. To protect patient information, there may be an ethical obligation to do so.

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