What is HIPAA
HIPAA is an acronym that stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. Title II of this act contains provisions for “Administrative Simplification.”
· Privacy – effective April 14, 2003
· Security – effective April 20, 2005
· Standards for electronic transmission of certain administrative and financial transactions – effective October 2003
The privacy provisions have led to numerous changes in how health information will be used and released by the health center and physician offices/clinics. Hospitals/clinics everywhere have been busy implementing new procedures to comply with these new rules. However, the changes being implemented will not affect patient care.
One change patients at MCHHS will notice is that when they first come to the health center, they will be given a document called “Notice of Privacy Practices”. This notice tells patients how their health information will be used, the circumstances under which it will be disclosed, and the rights patients have relating to their health information.
Because of these rules, the public may also notice some changes. For example, members of the public will have to ask for a patient by name in order to obtain their room number or information about them. At the time of patient registration, patients will have the option of determining whether or not to be included in the patient directory:
· I want my name included in the patient directory. I understand that my name, location in the hospital, and general condition may be provided to any person asking about me by name (including phone inquiries), and to members of the clergy (including religious affiliation), my family, individuals involved in my health care, for disaster relief effort, or as required by law.
· I do not want my name included in the patient directory. I understand mail addressed to me will be returned and any flowers sent to me will not be delivered. Any person, including visitors, asking for me by name, including outside telephone calls will not be forwarded and will be told, “There is no one by that name listed in our patient directory.”
In addition, patients will be asked during their nursing assessment for the names and phone numbers of up to three “contacts” with whom the health center and providers can verbally discuss your health information.
Patients will also notice that there is one department in the health center that will provide answers to questions about their health information. This is the Health Information Department and you can speak to the HIPAA Privacy Officer, Teri Henningsen, RHIT, CCS.
The privacy rules are a big step for health centers and clinics. To obtain a copy of Mitchell County Hospital Health Systems’ Notice of Privacy Practices click on the link or ask for one at the registration desk.