HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) is an ordinance that protects and provides rights to individuals over their health information. This rule restricts physicians and business associates to disclose the health information of patients unless they have a valid HIPAA authorization signed by the patients or their representatives. A valid HIPAA authorization contains the following features:
- The authorization must not be mixed with any other document. For instance, the authorization to share the physiotherapy data shouldn’t be combined with the other aspects of Patient Health Information (PHI)
- The authorization document must have the following key elements:
- A specific description of the PHI that is to be disclosed or used.
- The name or the identification of the person who is authorized to use the information and the person to whom the disclosure is requested ideally should be mentioned specifically.
- The purpose for which the disclosure is requested in the description.
- The signature of the patient or the patient’s representative. If it is handled by a representative, the description of their authority is required.
- The date of the signing along with the expiration date.
- The authorization must also contain all the relevant statement that protects the rights of the patient.
- If the authorization is to be used for marketing purpose, the patients must be notified in the authorization document that the provider would receive remuneration with the PHI.
- All the required elements should be filled out without any blanks in the authorization.
- The authorization must be presented in plain language and for patients with less English proficiency, the provider might be required to translate the contents.
- The provider must provide a signed copy of the authorization to the patient unless it has been requested from the patient’s side.
- The provider must have a copy of the authorization for at least six years.
Caution: Violation of HIPAA would result in civil fines and criminal penalties with possible jail time.