What’s the Deal with HIPAA?

Data breaches in health care organizations placing patient information at risk are increasingly common and have an estimated cost of over $2.2 million per occurrence.1In an effort to combat digital information from slipping through the cracks, the federal government crafted the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA)2  to protect patient privacy through enforcement of how health care organizations use, store and disclose information.

For health and human services students committed to comprehensive quality in patient care, health and safety, it’s important to understand the purpose of HIPAA laws and how they affect the operations of organizations. Qualified professionals, who have a clear understanding of the HIPPA privacy laws, are vital to improving HIPAA workflows and mitigating risks of data breaches.

The Basics of HIPAA

Patients have often encountered HIPAA whether they realize it or not; when they go to their health care provider’s office prior to an appointment and fill out their health history, they’ll be asked to read and sign several pages of forms. These forms may include HIPAA paperwork that outlines how their information may be shared within the organization.

HIPAA regulations include the Privacy Rule3 and the Security Rule.4 The Privacy Rule establishes protections  that set parameters on how providers use patient information and who they share it with. This rule also enables patients to request health record copies or make corrections to them in case of errors. The Security Rule outlines actual procedures on how to safeguard patient information. Procedures may include details on how or where information can be housed as well technological specifications for software protection.

Health care providers such as physicians, registered nurses, emergency medical technicians, and patient care coordinators must abide by HIPAA regulations2 to ensure quality patient care and privacy. Health plans and third party organizations that process patient health information are also bound to compliance.

HIPAA’s Influence on the Health Care Industry

HIPAA regulations create a unique ripple effect in health care and public health. These federal rules are in place to harmonize privacy with access to quality care; the regulations protect patient privacy, but sharing information between providers from different organizations requires increased coordination with patients and facilities to ensure consent. For clinicians, students, scientists and other professionals involved in health care, research is vital as a cornerstone to improving patient care outcomes and the effective use of technology.

HIPAA’s impact on research can present obstacles to participant recruitment, diversity in study participants, access to data and the completion of studies. These challenges may directly increase the amount of funding needed for research.5

In many cases, HIPAA can work to directly benefit the workplace by boosting the responsibility and transparency of health information management. Digital paper trails can determine who views patient records, tracks changes, or updates information.

HIPAA also enhances integrity of a health care facility’s business practices by enforcing data access restrictions, which limits liability. Strong password enforcement is another key feature of HIPAA’s security measures, which can cut back on sensitive data access from inside and outside of a health care organization.

Regulations require the implementation of data backup strategies and malware protection parameters. Cyber breaches cost the industry up to $6.2 billion in losses, 1 so protection augmented by HIPAA can reduce a facility’s overall cost of operation, and prevent loss or tampering of patient records.

HIPAA’s physical security requirements, which include details regarding camera surveillance, securely locked doors, identification badges and power loss contingency help organizations implement the extra layers of protection they need to ward off data breaches.

The Role of HIPAA for Health Informatics Jobs

While the HIPPA privacy rules protect sensitive information regarding patient health and care, rules do permit certain authorities to disclose protected information without authorization to protect the health of individuals and populations.6 Examples of situations where disclosing information may be critical include child abuse or neglect, persons at risk of contracting or spreading disease and medical surveillance related to workplace injuries.

Cultivate Solutions for the Health of Your Community with an Online MSHI Degree

The University of Scranton’s Master of Science in Health Informatics (MSHI) program offers a curriculum developed to teach students the skills to protect the health of individuals and communities through prevention and health education. The online MSHI program offers a flexible class schedule to accommodate working professionals who demonstrate leadership skills and to wish to advance their education and career.

Learn more about Health Informatics at The University of Scranton.


1 Ponemon Institute. (2016). The sixth annual benchmark study on privacy & security of health care data. Retrieved from http://www.cahiim.org/hi/aparprocess.html
2 U. S. Department of Health & Human Services. (n. d.). Health information privacy. Retrieved from http://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/index.html
3 U. S. Department of Health & Human Services. (n.d.). The HIPAA Privacy Rule. Retrieved from http://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/privacy/index.html
4 U. S. Department of Health & Human Services. (n.d.). The Security Rule. Retrieved from http://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/security/index.html
5 U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services National Institutes of Health. (2007). Clinical Research and the HIPAA Privacy Rule. Retrieved from https://privacyruleandresearch.nih.gov/clin_research.asp
6 U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n. d.). Public health. Retrieved from http://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/special-topics/public-health/index.html

You got a Degree in Health Administration – Now What?

Recent transformations within the health care industry have given healthcare executives the opportunity to consider more diverse career options. An increase in the shift from medical procedures being done in a hospital setting to them being performed in private practices has created the need for health services administrators to manage these practices as successful businesses.

What is Health Services Administration?

Healthcare administration careers integrate business, policy and science to manage the fiscal and human resources that are necessary to deliver valuable health services.

These services may include:
1.    Managing a clinic’s database
2.    Directing hospital services
3.    Creating budgets for the health department
4.    Designing policies for health insurance companies

If you choose this profession, you could work in resource development, administration or in public or private sectors. Although health services administrators frequently find employment in hospitals and medical centers, there are opportunities in nursing homes, retirement communities, and physician practices.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists other facilities where healthcare executives can find employment opportunities, some of which include:

  • Home health agencies
  • Outpatient facilities
  • Healthcare associations
  • Consulting firms
  • Integrated Delivery Systems (IDS)
  • Managed care organizations:
    • Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO)
    • Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO)
  • Research institutions and universities
  • The Public Health Department

Entry and Mid-Level Management Positions:

If you decide on a career in healthcare management, you may begin your career in an entry- or mid-level management position.

This position may concentrate on a specific area, such as:

  • Government relations
  • Finance
  • Human resources
  • Nursing administration
  • Medical staff relations
  • Patient care services

According to a healthcare study, these professionals spend a great deal of time, and place a high value on, problem solving, communicating, collaborations with other disciplines, making decisions, containing costs, and developing their staff’s skills.

Career Options for Health Service Administration Graduates:

1.    The “Traditional” Administrator

Individuals who begin their health administration career with an associate’s degree frequently find employment as traditional administrators. These administrators order supplies and organize schedules. They also navigate medical software to bill patients, access patient records, and perform other management functions.

2.    Assistant Manager/Administrator

An experienced administrator may be given the responsibility of overseeing a facility’s employees, finances, and procedures. This allows health administrators to obtain higher paying positions.

Responsibilities will include:

  • Balancing each department’s budget
  • Managing group practices with numerous locations
  • Reviewing projects

It is also possible to find an assistant manager position with a nonprofit group, a local health agency, as well as with a state or national health agency.

3.    Clinical Research Manager

Reinforcement from scientific advancements has helped the field of clinical research continue to grow. The complexity of clinical research requires coordination of researchers, study participants, physicians and pharmaceutical executives.

Federal oversight measures must also be addressed. Individuals who choose to pursue a degree in health service administration and become clinical research managers must also be proficient with financial management and budget planning.

4.    Social Media Directors, Health Facility Marketing Managers or PR Specialists

Social media campaigns and public relations are a fundamental aspect of the healthcare business. To become a social media director, PR specialist, or health facility marketing manager, health administration students need to study health marketing or health communications.

5.    Nursing Home Administration

To become an administrator in a nursing home, you should consider taking courses in gerontology. Courses such as this can help prepare you for the administration aspect of your career, as well as offer you insight into the special needs of the patients you are helping.

6.    Clinical Leader/Manager

A professional that has knowledge relating to a specific clinical area is referred to as a clinical leader or clinical manager. Specific clinical areas include neonatal care and radiology. Once a clinician earns their health administration leadership degree, they may be hired as a clinical leader in their department.

7.    Health Information Managers

Health information managers are responsible for maintaining and securing patients’ electronic medical records. These managers may also supervise a team of medical coding employees or work with IT professionals to make sure that all the records are legally compliant, accurate, and easily accessible.

The field of healthcare management requires talented individuals who can assist in introducing and managing the many changes that are taking place within the healthcare industry. As a healthcare executive, you can make a substantial contribution to improve the health of the residents in the communities you serve.

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Learn more about Health Administration at The University of Scranton.

Why Choose Scranton for a Graduate Program?

Nationally Recognized Programs & Points of Pride

The University of Scranton is committed to providing excellent and rigorous graduate education through programs that will prepare you for careers. Students focus on their fields of specialization under the guidance of our top-notch faculty and benefit from our state-of-the-art technology and other resources.

Many of our graduate programs are nationally recognized for their quality and affordability:

  • U.S. News & World Report’sBest Colleges” has ranked The University of Scranton among the 10 top master’s universities in the North for 25 consecutive years.
  • Our MBA program was ranked among the top 15 in the nation for general management by Entrepreneur magazine and The Princeton Review.
  • Our master’s in health administration (MHA) program ranked No. 1 in the nation for full-time enrolled students in a list published by Modern Healthcare, a health care business weekly magazine.
  • In its 2019 “Best Graduate Schools” guidebook, U.S. News & World Report ranked several of The University of Scranton’s master’s degree programs among the best in the nation:
    Operations Management (15) Rehabilitation Counseling (24)
    Information Systems (20) Health Administration (42)
    Finance (23) Physical Therapy (53)
    Accounting (28) Occupational Therapy (58)
    Part-time MBA (74) Nurse Anesthesia (65)
  • Scranton’s online Master’s in Accountancy program was named Best in the Nation by Best Colleges, an independent online higher education resource.
  • U.S. News & World Report’s 2017 “Best Online Programs” ranked the University’s online MBA program No. 91 in the nation. The University’s graduate program in Education ranked No. 113.
  • Our MBA in Health Care Management program is ranked #25 by AffordableColleges.com in a list of the most affordable online master’s in healthcare management programs in the nation.  Scranton’s program stood out in both quality and affordability.
  • Scranton’s graduate Nursing program was recently ranked #98 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.

To learn more about our graduate programs, click here.

Faculty Spotlight: Scranton’s Beth Elias, Ph.D., MS, FHIMSS, Brings Health Informatics Expertise to Leading International Conference

This February, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) conference convened in Orlando, Florida, bringing together 40,000 health information and technology professionals from more than 90 countries to discuss, debate, and co-invent the future of health information management.

 Health professionals, corporate executives, technologists, and market suppliers met, networked, and listened to leaders in the field discuss what’s next.

This year, The University of Scranton’s own Beth Elias, Ph.D., MS, FHIMSS, a faculty member in the health informatics program, was invited to speak as part of the prestigious “Views from the Top” sessions at HIMSS, a collection of educational sessions from those considered high-level leaders in the field. Elias became a HIMSS Fellow in 2018, but has been involved with the organization for many years.

“It is such an honor to be recognized for my contributions to the organization and to Health Informatics,” she says. “HIMSS is truly an interprofessional and interdisciplinary organization that welcomes everyone.”

Standards across borders

In her role with The University of Scranton, Elias shares her healthcare technology expertise with students in the Master of Science in Health Informatics program, but at HIMSS19, Elias spoke of an international effort to set high and consistent standards for the education of health informaticians across international borders.

“We must ensure we are preparing students who will be able to serve as effective health informaticians when they graduate,” says Elias, who alongside co-presenter Dr. Ursula Hübner, shared results of their work.

The project, known as the TIGER (Technology Informatics Guiding Education Reform) International Competency Synthesis Project, began in 2015 when the organizers started collecting case studies and survey input from around the world, as part of an effort to understand the current state of educational competency standards.

Bringing it back to Scranton

After two years as a committee member on the project, Elias’s role expanded in 2017 to serve as national co-chair, where she worked with a team of representatives from 21 countries to standardize education. The end result: a robust framework that offers a structure for high-quality, consistent international standards while taking into differences across borders and cultures.

For Elias, her interest in this work comes from a desire to make the field stronger for everyone—including her students at The University of Scranton.

“Any work we do to understand how to better prepare students to be effective health informaticians helps our students stand out from others,” she says. “Projects like the International Competency Synthesis Project allow us to learn not only what we need to teach, but also informs us in the best methods.”

Build Your Own Career in Health Informatics

Join Professor Elias with an MS in Health Informatics from The University of Scranton. Learn more here!

Health Informatics: A Lucrative Job Market

The Health Informatics Job Market: Lucrative and Robust

Health informatics is a robust, and growing, field at the nexus of healthcare and technology. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of jobs in the field is projected to grow twice as quickly as overall employment through 2022, rising 22 percent.1 Demand, however, varies across the U.S.

States With the Most-Vibrant Health Informatics Job Growth

Job markets where demand for health informatics professionals is expanding quickly can be found in regions throughout the U.S., according to data from job market analytics firm Burning Glass Technologies. Here’s a look at the areas with the most-vibrant job growth.

Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.

Massachusetts, Connecticut and the District of Columbia have high concentrations of healthcare information technology companies that have contributed to strong job growth. Massachusetts has launched a private-public initiative to strengthen its reputation as a hub for healthcare IT innovation.2

Midwest.

In Michigan, Illinois and Missouri, institutions are engaged in cutting-edge research in informatics, while at the same time, job demand also is high in more-rural states, like South Dakota, which are innovating in areas such as telemedicine.

South.

Georgia, Louisiana and Virginia are the states that stand out in the South. Two examples of strong informatics activity in the region: Georgia is creating a statewide incubator,3  while Louisiana has established a network of more than 100 hospitals that share information on healthcare quality and population health measures.4

West.

A focus on informatics and health IT in California’s Silicon Valley is being echoed by innovative efforts to integrate healthcare data in Oregon5 and Arizona,6 two states with high job demand.

Salaries Are Far Above Average

Salaries in the health informatics field are excellent. The average salary for health informatics professionals nationwide is $88,000, according to Indeed.7 Some jobs, such as the medical coders required to comply with the new ICD-10 standards (with average salaries of up to $50,000), do not require advanced degrees. But the most-lucrative careers require specialized skills that come from a combination of clinical experience and specialized training in technology and business practices. The best-paying jobs include:

  • Health Data Standards Leads, average salary $156,000
  • Informatics Specialists, average salary $104,000
  • Nursing Informaticists, average salary $100,717
  • Clinical Informatics Managers, average salary $92,819
  • Senior Healthcare Informatics Analysts, average salary between $90,000 and $140,000
  • Clinical Analysts, average salary $68,823
  • Clinical Informatics Specialists, average salary $68,707
  • Health Informatics Specialists, average salary between $61,050 and $123,000

The Skills You Need

A Burning Glass analysis of job listings for the health informatics careers that require advanced degrees indicates that a broad range of high-level skills are in high demand, and these skills are generally obtained only with a graduate-level degree. Health informatics professionals should have some combination of these skills under their belt:

  • Data analysis
  • Business administration
  • Project management
  • Data management
  • Information systems
  • Business intelligence
  • Management consulting

Employers in the health informatics field also are looking for individuals who are good communicators, researchers and problem solvers.

The University of Scranton: At the Cutting Edge

The University of Scranton’s Master of Science in Health Informatics program is at the cutting edge of this emerging field. The program’s faculty includes top-tier professionals whose firsthand experience in solving complex healthcare problems can help you become the health informatics expert your organization needs.

To learn more about the Health Informatics program at The University of Scranton, click here.

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