Health data aggregation is a crucial process of information gathering for future research and analysis. However, there are cases where health information should be reported immediately to the state or federal authorities to prevent possible adverse effects. The present paper provides an overview of two instances of mandatory reporting in healthcare.
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Child abuse is one of the issues that require mandatory reporting to state authorities. Child Welfare Information Gateway (CWIG, 2016) created a list of professionals that are obligated to report any suspicion of child mistreatment that includes healthcare professionals, social workers, school personnel, and any other care providers working with minors. The measure was introduced to fight against child abuse and prevent any possible harm to children. Apart from obligations imposed by state laws, there is often an institutional responsibility to report whenever a professional suspect or has reason to believe that a child has been abused or neglected. In short, maltreatment of minors is an issue that requires immediate disclosure to state authorities.
The information about child abuse can be submitted by almost any means. According to CWIG (2016), the most frequently used channel of reporting is through a federal toll-free number. However, it can also be disclosed through any other means including first-class mail, fax, online form, or email. In brief, data accumulation is made easy, as a person can use any convenient way of reporting.
Status Quo Improvement Possibilities
While the process of information collection is convenient for the reporter, data entering and processing remains a challenge due to the lack of a standardized form of reporting. According to Coronel and Morris (2019), the essential characteristics of data that is easy to manage is integrity and absence of redundancy. However, information gathered about child abuse has to go through the normalization process before entering into the database. The reason for the issue is differences in state laws that make it impossible to create a unified entry form. In short, the status quo can be improved with the elaboration of a consolidated procedure of reporting.
Healthcare professionals are obligated by federal law to disclose all the information about security breaches concerning health data. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS, n.d.) requires all the medical personnel to report any cases of unauthorized use of protected information within the shortest possible time. It is made to fulfill the US Constitution, which protects every citizen’s privacy.
The information about security breaches must be reported in three steps. First, healthcare organizations responsible for the incident must affected individuals by first-class mail or email (HHS, n.d.). Second, the institution must issue a notice to the media about the event (HHS, n.d.).Third, the information is submitted to the Secretary of breaches of unsecured protected health information through an online form (HHS, n.d.). In summary, the process of information submission is well regulated and includes some very delicate matters.
Status Quo Improvement Possibilities
While the US government provides an in-depth description of the reporting process, it may appear complicated and confusing. The possibility to improve the situation would be to create a more comprehendible notification form, which would accelerate the process of data collection. However, security breaches are sensitive situations, where rush can be inappropriate. This may be the reason why the proposed improvement has not yet been accomplished.
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The cases discussed in the present paper are vivid examples of mandatory health data reporting. They make it clear that healthcare organizations at times are obliged to report not only information related to the health status of a population but also the security of healthcare data. While some of the processes of the disclosure are well organized, others may require improvements.
Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2016). Mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau.
Coronel, C., & Morris, S. (2019). Database systems: Design, implementation, and management (13th ed.). Web.
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (n.d.). Breach notification rule. Web.