HIPAA – How Does It Apply To Me?

HIPAA – How Does It Apply To Me?

As a clinic, Green Bay Oncology has an obligation to follow the HIPAA rules set by the federal government. HIPAA is a federal law that protects the privacy of personal health information. It stands for the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act. It gives patients control over who, outside of necessary medical professionals and insurance companies, has access to confidential medical information. Physicians can share medical records with other physicians and clinics when referring a patient to them or communicating with other physicians already involved in the patient’s care. Insurers require basic information to process claims and approve procedures and medications.

When a patient completes the initial paperwork at the first appointment, a notice of privacy practices is given to let patients know that Green Bay Oncology will use and disclose health information for treatment purposes, payment activities and healthcare operations without written consent or authorization. This also explains patient rights related to protected health information. Patients are then asked to sign an acknowledgement of receiving a copy of these practices. Patients also receive a copy of the HIPAA form whose purpose is described below.

How can I or my loved ones obtain my information?

When a patient completes the initial appointment paperwork, a HIPAA release form is completed. This form allows patients to indicate who can receive verbal information from our clinic. This allows someone other than the patient to call into the clinic to get medical information, appointment information and/or billing information as indicated by the patient.

Patients have the right to obtain their written medical information from our facility. They also have the right to release their written medical information to family members, friends or others. In order to have information released, a patient must sign an authorization allowing this transaction. A medical records associate will then verify the information is complete and process the request. This form can be mailed or faxed for completion. In rare circumstances, a verbal authorization can be obtained via phone call with two Green Bay Oncology employees. This is only allowed by exception.

What happens if my loved ones need my information after I pass away?

Any rights granted by the above forms ends when a patient passes away. If records are needed from a deceased patient’s chart, the personal representative of the deceased patient’s estate must present the paperwork that gives him or her the authority to act on behalf of the deceased and then request the needed records.

The exception to this is if records are requested by a physician to treat another family member. The records would be released directly to the health care provider who is treating the surviving relative. Authorization for releasing records of a deceased patient are also not required when releasing health information to funeral directors, medical examiners, law enforcement and for research purposes.

While many of us are used to seeing the HIPAA paperwork in all of the healthcare facilities we go to, we often forget the reason for these laws. It is more than just paperwork to complete. At its essence, HIPAA protects each of us as individuals and gives us much tighter control over our healthcare information.