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While the entire patient experience is important, it is becoming more common for a patient’s experience to begin, and end, online.

Healthcare laws affect both the online and in-person patient experience. What is perhaps the most important law when it comes to the patient experience today is the HIPAA Act, which protects patients’ health information.

Here’s a list of four laws that influence the patient experience.


The Privacy Rule was established on Dec. 28, 2000 in an effort to implement the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).

It’s a rule that gives individuals protection of their personal health information and medical records based on a set of national standards.

“The Privacy Rule, as well as all the Administrative Simplification rules, apply to health plans, healthcare clearing houses, and any healthcare provider who transmits health information in electronic form in connection with transactions for which the Secretary of HHS has adopted standards under HIPAA,” according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Patients are given the right to receive a copy of their health records and request corrections if they find a mistake.

If a patient’s rights have been violated, patients can write a complaint here.

The law strikes a balance between giving the patient the right to protect certain health information while making sure important health information can be used when necessary.

Because patients have a right to the privacy of their health, doctor’s responses to reviews can be in violation of HIPAA if doctors reveal patient health information. So keep this law in mind when you or someone from your healthcare organization is responding to reviews and patient feedback.

This is a real issue. According to research published in the Washington Post, patients reference privacy or HIPAA in more than 3,500 1-star online reviews.

managing online reviews CTA

Civil Rights Act of 1964

The Civil Rights Act of 1964, which banned discrimination, affected the healthcare industry in a significant way and completely redefined the patient experience.

Before President Lyndon Johnson signed the act into law, racial segregation was common in U.S. hospitals, according to Hospitals and Health Networks. Segregation took on many forms, such as designated sides for white and black patients at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. Other forms of segregation included the prevention of white and black patients from sharing a room, and the separation of newborns into different rooms based on color.

Although there were hospitals that followed the Civil Rights Act, in part because of pressure from federal authorities, it was difficult to enforce the law, at least until the passage of Medicare and Medicaid.  

In order for a hospital to receive Medicare funds, it was required that the hospital to be in compliance with the Civil Rights Act. Therefore, it was only when hospitals followed the racial integration guidelines that they could receive Medicare funding.

Preston Reynolds, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Virginia School of Medicine, researches the history of African Americans in an effort to eliminate discrimination in healthcare settings.

“While the Medicare hospital certification program eliminated overt discrimination in many hospitals throughout the country, racist policies and practices still existed in many others,” Reynolds writes in an article published in AM J Public Health.

Affordable Care Act

Passed into law in March of 2010, the act lets individuals, families, and small business owners take charge of their healthcare, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The law provides billions of dollars of relief in taxes, the largest amount of tax money cut for the middle class in the history of healthcare.

The law also puts a limit on out-of-pocket expenses and requires full coverage of preventative care. The act also gives uninsured individuals and families access to inexpensive insurance options.

The goal of the act is to give Americans greater access to quality and affordable care.


The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act grants the right of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services “to establish programs to improve healthcare quality, safety, and efficiency through the promotion of health IT, including electronic health records (EHRs) and private and secure electronic health information exchange.”

This law is expected to impact the patient experience in a positive way by helping to make healthcare more safe and more focused on the patient.

One of the objectives of the HITECH Act is to improve access to health-related services and information, such as healthcare and health education programs.

Keep these laws in mind as part of your customer feedback management strategy.

Megan Wenzl

Megan is the Associate Editor for ReviewTrackers. She's a writer who is committed to finding useful information to help your business succeed. Megan holds an M.A. in journalism from Columbia College Chicago.