When I was growing up, my parents had a traditional mailbox in front of their house. It was an aluminum box painted with flowers that sat upon a wooden post. I can still recall looking out the window and knowing that the mail person had come and gone because the outgoing flag was no longer raised. Today, the cutesy mailboxes are a thing of the past. In fact, their mass exodus has led to the influx of boxes that have physical lock and keys. Why? Not to be dramatic, but it’s because your mail is not safe, and if you are sending or receiving medical records and images through that very mailbox, you’re at great risk.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of the European Union (EU) is like HIPAA...and then some. In fact, if you thought HIPAA had high fines, the revised GDPR will give a run for your money. So, do yourself a favor and take the precautions necessary to abide to these new regulations set to go into effect on May 25, 2018....
The sharing of medical images is something that has and always will be a critical aspect of patient care. The information that medical imaging can provide is extremely valuable. If it is not provided in time, it can very possible lead to a delay in diagnosis, which in very severe cases can mean life or death. Without getting overly dramatic, we want to press the importance of good sharing methods that won’t get you in trouble. That’s right, if you are still faxing, burning CDs and DVDs, or parceling your images...think again.
While medical imaging is not the major focus of HIPAA or HITECH, it is important that practitioners be wary of the unique issues associated with this type of protected health information (PHI). Medical images are typically dense data files often much larger than their other medical record counterparts. It’s not unusual to find studies or series of images that exceed one gigabyte in size. Their storage, sharing and archive pose unique challenges for the practitioner. Hence, it is important to understand how best utilize this important diagnostic tool while not running afoul of regulations.