Principles for Appropriate Use of Healthcare Technology

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Principles for Appropriate Use of Healthcare Technology

Healthcare in the 21st century is embracing technology in various ways to reduce costs, improve patient outcomes, streamline operations and even as a method for medical professionals like doctors to advertise their practices. It is not uncommon nowadays for people to find full procedures especially in the areas of plastic surgery on Instagram or Snapchat. On such social media sites, an individual is likely to find procedures being carried out on patients including the dressing of wounds by simply following social media accounts of various medical professionals. In most cases, such medical professionals use such avenues as education avenues for students or interested parties that are following their social media accounts. This paper will rely on such incidences to discuss the safeguards around the use of patient information in relation to the use of technology and discuss systems that would promote a safe environment for both patients and health workers in relation to maintaining the privacy of the patient.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) is the main legislation in the United States that spells out the guidelines for securing and safeguarding the medical information of patients across the nation. HIPPA guidelines will generally override any state laws regarding patient information unless such a law provides more stringent measures to secure patient information than the HIPPA stipulations(Rouse, 2020).

HIPPA compliance is addressed in Title II of the Act which stipulates Administrative Simplifications and the privacy rules that guide the health sector. The Title II provisions of the Act are commonly referred to as HIPPA Compliance. Under this section of the Act, the Department of Health in collaboration with healthcare organizations across the country is required to establish standards that guide electronic transactions in healthcare. The standards should ensure that the Personal/Protected Health Information (PHI) of patients is secured from exposure to the public. PHI according to HIPPA includes the name, address, date of birth, social security number, past and current mental or physical health conditions, current and past payments for healthcare by an individual and any care that is provided to a patient(Rouse, 2020). Non-compliance with the HIPPA rules carries costly ramifications for healthcare providers. Though the HIPPA was enacted before the launch of social media websites, health organizations are required by the Act to set social media policies in line with the provisions of the privacy rule of HIPPA to reduces chances of violating the privacy rights of patients(Rouse, 2020).

The restrictions by HIPPA have exceptions where Protected Health Information may be disclosed.  The first instance where a patient’s information can be disclosed is with the written consent of the patient. This consent is different and separate from the consent signed to authorize health workers to carry out certain procedures on the patient. The health worker should also make sure to explain the implication of such consent to the patient and the details of the extent of what information will be disclosed before such consent is signed(Blightman et al., 2014). Another instance where disclosure of information is allowed by the Act even without the consent of the patient is where it is required by the law in instances of reporting cases of abuse, for judicial proceedings, health oversight procedures and law enforcement.

Moving away from the provisions of HIPPA, principles of data integrity and data management are key in maintaining the privacy of patient information. Since most of the hospital records require constant alterations to achieve a workable format, data integrity becomes vital to ensure that the accuracy and safety of such information is not compromised. In 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued guidelines on data integrity for the pharmaceutical industry as part of a response to data manipulation concerns(Ahmad et al., 2019). The FDA guidelines define the ALCOA principles which are meant to guide data integrity especially in the pharmaceutical industry. ALCOA is an acronym for attributable, legible, contemporaneous, original and accurate as the guiding principles that form the data lifecycle and data integrity initiatives(Ahmad et al., 2019).

Medical professionals are also guided by ethical considerations of the profession when dealing with patient data. The health sector requires an exchange of clinical data across various electronic devices cross different geographical areas especially when dealing in referral of clients(Freckelton& Petersen, 2017). Ethics of the medical profession are therefore important in standardizing how clinical information is handled across the profession. The ethical code of dealing with patient information was codified by the International Medical Informatics Association (IMIA) and revised the Code of Ethics for Heath Information Professionals to match the requirements of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights(Kluge et al., 2018). According to this ethical code, medical professionals are required to go through an ethical certification program that instills knowledge on how to differentiate patient data into personal ad non-personal data and how to maintain the privacy of personal data. The ethical certification program also equips medical professionals with the skills to acquire the appropriate consent required before any patient information is released publically through mediums like social media(Kluge et al., 2018).

There is a concern for many health establishments where data management is outsourced to third parties to ease the burden for health workers from administrative and data management activities. Even where such tasks are outsourced, hospitals have a role in making sure that the outsourced parties comply with the HIPPA and ethical code rules in maintaining the privacy of personal health information of the patients.


The influence of social media on healthcare cannot be ignored and such influence continues to grow by the day. Social media enables healthcare providers to interact with their patients freely and as a result, the patients become more involved in their healthcare management.  At the same time, healthcare providers are able to make use of their websites to communicate information about new services for their patients and this also ends up as an advertising avenue for the healthcare establishments. It is necessary to strike a balance between the positive effects of social media to healthcare as well as protecting the constitutional provisions of privacy to individuals. This can only be achieved by setting of standards towards compliance with HIPPA provisions as well as the abiding to the principles of data integrity and professional ethic in the field of medicine. Establishing and maintaining privacy requirements for the patients will lead to a safe environment for both patients and medical professionals.

Gaining consent from the patient before disclosing their detail will ensure that HIPPA regulations are not violated and that the patient cannot sue the medical professionals for breach of privacy. However, medical professionals need to know how to explain the consequences of giving consent so that patients do not feel short-changed once their information is in the public domain.



Ahmad, S., Kumar, A., &Hafeez, A. (2019).Importance of data integrity & its regulation in pharmaceutical industry. The Pharma Innovation Journal8(1), 306-313. Retrieved 8 November 2020, from

Blightman, K., Griffiths, S., & Danbury, C. (2014). Patient confidentiality: when can a breach be justified?. Continuing Education InAnaesthesia Critical Care & Pain14(2), 52-56.

Freckelton, I., & Petersen, K. (2017). Tensions and traumas in health law (4th ed.). Federation Press.

Kluge, E., Lacroix, P., &Ruotsalainen, P. (2018).Ethics Certification of Health Information Professionals. Yearbook Of Medical Informatics27(01), 037-040.

Rouse, M. (2020). What is HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act)?.SearchHealthIT.Retrieved 8 November 2020, from