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The U.S. Congress recognized the need for national patient record privacy standards in 1996 and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) was enacted. The law included provisions designed to improve efficiency and reduce costs for health care businesses by encouraging electronic transactions, but it also required new safeguards to protect the security and confidentiality of that information. In November 1999, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published proposed regulations to guarantee patients new rights and protections against the misuse or disclosure of their health records. The Act has changed the way healthcare organizations send, receive, and manage confidential information.
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