Female Doctor Uses Tablet to Show X-Ray to Patient
By IHPL - February 1, 2024

Healthcare is experiencing a digital wave in recent years, especially in the post pandemic era of COVID-19. In the quest to meet consumer demands for personalized healthcare, the market is being flooded with digital innovations, including tech gadgets and wearables, remote consultations, and sophisticated prognosis tools with predictive analytics.

In the U.S., 97% of Americans own a mobile phone, of which 92% are smartphone owners.1 Access to digital devices are providing several opportunities to engage the consumer in their health using a variety of health applications available on smartphones. Fitbit and other wearables come equipped with sensors that can monitor movement, oxygen levels, and sleep patterns, allowing consumers to take a more proactive approach to their health with real-time data. It is estimated that in the next 25 years, wearables can result in over $200 billion in cost savings.2

Utilization of telehealth services for patient consultations and monitoring has also grown and is an integral part of the delivery system including primary care, behavioral health, and specialty practices. 3,4,5,6 In addition to virtual treatments, the ability for an organization to collect large amounts of data on an individual or a group of people through health surveys, medical records and patient registries has made predictive analytics increasingly popular. Predictive analytics can provide tremendous benefits to healthcare delivery especially in clinical decision making, disease prevention, and more accurate diagnoses.7

No doubt, advances in healthcare technologies have immense benefits, but it also opens the door for data breaches and cybercrime. For healthcare providers, upholding patient privacy through the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a mandate. When this law was first introduced in 1996, it was intended to provide healthcare coverage to persons who lose or change their jobs. Today, HIPAA is most associated with patient data privacy. The HIPAA Privacy Rule has set standards for the protection of health information to protect the public’s health and well-being. Understanding the complexity of information flow across different healthcare entities, the Law was designed to offer some flexibility for covered entities: healthcare providers, plans, clearinghouses, and business associates.8 With the increase in electronic exchanges between various parties and entities, complying with HIPAA privacy rules has become both expensive and burdensome. Additionally, unauthorized access, data breaches, and misuse of sensitive information are on the rise. In 2022, an average of 1.94 healthcare data breaches of 500 or more records were reported daily.9

To update the HIPAA Privacy Rule, especially considering elevated concerns to reduce the administrative burden of covered entities, the Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights (OCR) is looking for ways to reduce the burden as it relates to care coordination. In 2024, modifications to the Privacy Rule are expected to be announced. Anticipated changes include improved access to medical records and billing, the ability for covered entities to permit certain disclosures of protected health information (PHI) that is in the patient's best interest, and broadening the definition of health care operations to include case management and care coordination.10 Likely the industry will welcome these updates; however, it is important to be vigilant when balancing the need to reduce administrative burden while protecting patient information. In the future, we can expect to see a greater focus on competing interests of improving the movement of information flow of patient care while ensuring the public’s trust that the data is not violating an individual’s right to privacy.

Author Bio:

Huma Shah, DrPH, MPH, FACHE

Dr. Shah is the Program Director of the Master's in Healthcare Administration Program and Associate Professor at the School of Public Health. Her research interests include organizational strategy/culture, health policy, leadership, clinical outcomes, and spirituality in the workplace.


  1. Bortin, J. October 3, 2023. Cellphones statistics 2024. Consumer Affairs. https://www.consumeraffairs.com/cell_phones/cell-phone-statistics.html
  2. Vijayan, V., Connolly, J. P., Condell, J., McKelvey, N., & Gardiner, P. (2021). Review of Wearable Devices and Data Collection Considerations for Connected Health. Sensors (Basel, Switzerland), 21(16), 5589. https://doi.org/10.3390/s21165589
  3. Beheshti, L., Kalankesh, L. R., Doshmangir, L., & Farahbakhsh, M. (2022). Telehealth in Primary Health Care: A Scoping Review of the Literature. Perspectives in health information management, 19(1), 1n.
  4. McBain RK, Schuler MS, Qureshi N, et al. Expansion of Telehealth Availability for Mental Health Care After State-Level Policy Changes From 2019 to 2022. JAMA Netw Open. 2023;6(6):e2318045. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.18045
  5. Marbury, D. (n.d.). How specialty care is leading the change in telehealth. Health Tech. Retrieved on January 1, 2024. https://healthtechmagazine.net/article/2023/11/how-specialty-care-leading-change-telehealth
  6. Pearl, R. & Wayling, B. (2022). The telehealth era is just beginning. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2022/05/the-telehealth-era-is-just-beginning
  7. Petrova, B. (June 28, 2023). Predictive analytics in healthcare. Reveal. https://www.revealbi.io/blog/predictive-analytics-in-healthcare
  8. Summary of the HIPAA Privacy Rule. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved on January 1, 2023. https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/privacy/laws-regulations/index.html
  9. (n.d) Healthcare data breach statistics. The HIPAA Journal. Retrieved January 1, 2024. https://www.hipaajournal.com/healthcare-data-breach-statistics/
  10. Alder, S. (December 1, 2023). HIPAA Updates and HIPAA Changes in 2023-2024. The HIPAA Journal. https://www.hipaajournal.com/hipaa-updates-hipaa-changes/