What is the Privacy Rule?
The Privacy Rule is part of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. The Privacy Rule establishes a federal requirement that doctors, hospitals or other healthcare providers and health plans obtain a patient’s written consent before using or disclosing a patient’s personal health information to carry out treatment, payment or healthcare operations.
Skin Cancer and Dermatology Institute is required by law to be compliant with the Privacy Rule by April 14, 2003.
What is PHI?
PHI or protected health information means any personal health information as defined by law, including demographic information that is collected from a patient by a healthcare provider or other entity that could potentially identify the individual. PHI includes all medical records and other individually identifiable health information held or disclosed by Skin Cancer and Dermatology Institute regardless of how it is communicated (e.g., electronically, written, verbally.)
In other words, our practice can use or disclose PHI for performing any activity that it deems necessary for 1) providing quality patient care, 2) ensuring that our practice gets paid for the services, and 3) operating our practice. Some examples of these activities are use of PHI by the physician(s) and clinical staff to treat a patient, use of PHI by the business office staff to verify insurance information for billing purposes, use of PHI to obtain a referral, and use of PHI for our practice’s planning and internal management activities.
Why do I have to sign a consent form?
In order to use or disclose your PHI, our practice is required to obtain a signed consent form from you to directly treat you or carry out healthcare payment and operations activities. Our practice is not required to obtain your prior consent in an emergency, when our practice is required by law to treat you, or when there are substantial communication barriers. Our practice reserves the right to refuse to treat you if you do not sign the consent form.
What is the difference between the consent and forms?
In order to use or disclose your PHI for specified purposes other than direct treatment, payment, or healthcare operations, our practice is required to obtain a signed authorization form from you. for example, if you request our practice to disclose PHI to a third party, you must sign an authorization form. This authorization form is more detailed than a consent form and has a specific date.