For this module, you will address:
Ethical issues that exist in health informatics / Methods by which Protected Health Information (PHI) breaches occur and steps that can be taken to prevent them.
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Respond to two peer submissions.
Ethical Issues in Health Informatics:
Patient Privacy: Patients’ have a right to whom and how their health records are used but unfortunately, there are instances where the patients’ information is invaded by healthcare professionals, family members, etc.
Information Security: The access in which healthcare professionals and healthcare data are kept and guarded from viruses or hackers.
Transparency in the Use of Healthcare Data: The honesty in how the patients’ data is used regarding their past, present, and future care can be misused by not being transparent about certain motives in using the patients’ data.
Methods by which Protected Health Information (PHI) breaches occur:
Unauthorized Access: Sharing PHI with people, organizations, and or programs who were not permitted to access certain data. Inadequate Security Measures: An overall failure to monitor the access of important records and not providing adequate/quality, secure encryption.
Medical Record Mishandling: User error, leaving important health records unattended in physical/digital form such as papers within reach and or view.
Mailing/Emailing Mistakes: A failure to double-check and be certain of mailing important information/data to the right recipient. Improper Disposal of Records: Not disposing of information and data with the process or steps necessary. Steps that can be taken to prevent PHI breaches:
Being Attentive to documents and possible visible data.
Being Confidential and not giving out login information or access to unauthorized people. Double-check before sending and or finalizing a process regarding important documents. Enable Security Features such as credible encryption programs.
Effectively Dispose of Unused/Old login credentials.
Ethical Issues in Health Informatics:
Issue: The collection and storage of sensitive health data raise concerns about patients’ privacy.
Consideration: Ethical practices involve securing patient consent and ensuring that data sharing complies with privacy regulations.
Data Security and Integrity:
Issue: Ensuring the security and integrity of health data is crucial to prevent unauthorized access or tampering.
Consideration: Ethical responsibility involves implementing robust cybersecurity measures to protect against data breaches.
Issue: Obtaining meaningful and informed consent from patients regarding the use of their health data.
Consideration: Ethical practice involves transparent communication about data usage, potential risks, and obtaining explicit consent.
Bias in Algorithms:
Issue: Bias in algorithms used for diagnostics and treatment decisions.
Consideration: Ethical development and deployment of algorithms involve addressing biases to ensure fair and unbiased healthcare outcomes.
Data Ownership and Access:
Issue: Determining who owns health data and who should have access to it.
Consideration: Ethical guidelines involve defining clear ownership, access controls, and transparency in data sharing practices.
Methods of Preventing PHI Breaches:
Encryption and Secure Transmission:
Method: Implement end-to-end encryption for data in transit to prevent interception during transmission.
Method: Enforce strict access controls based on user roles to ensure that only authorized personnel can access PHI.
Regular Security Audits:
Method: Conduct regular security audits to identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses in the information systems.
Method: Train employees on security best practices, including recognizing phishing attempts and safeguarding access credentials.
Method: Implement multi-factor authentication to add an extra layer of security for user access.
Incident Response Plan:
Method: Develop and regularly update an incident response plan to efficiently address and contain breaches when they occur.
Method: Regularly back up PHI data to ensure data recovery in case of accidental deletion, corruption, or ransomware attacks.
Method: Stay informed and compliant with healthcare regulations such as HIPAA to meet legal standards for protecting PHI.
Secure Application Development:
Method: Follow secure coding practices when developing healthcare applications to minimize vulnerabilities.
Method: Implement continuous monitoring of network traffic and system logs to detect and respond to suspicious activities promptly.
By addressing these ethical considerations and implementing preventive measures, healthcare organizations can uphold the integrity of health informatics and protect patients’ sensitive information.
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