[ Friday, March 07, 2003 ]
At many of the speeches and seminars I give, providers ask me for advice on their Notice of Privacy Practices (NOPPs or NPPs). The regulations require that covered entities formulate a NOPP that describes all of the ways they will use an individual's information, and "provide" or "give a copy" of the NOPP to the individual. The individual has a right to receive the NOPP because they have a right to know how their PHI (protected health information) is going to be used. Since the NOPP is intended to include all of the possible ways the covered entity might use the information, it usually is about 8 pages long. Additionally, covered entities that provide direct patient care must have a copy of their NOPP posted in their office where patients might see it.
Providers are concerned about the paper and copy costs of providing the NOPP. Most patients won't even read the thing; the posted one should be sufficient to put them on notice; and isn't it easier to just ask if they want one, and provide it then? The problem with this approach is that a patient might later decide he doesn't like the way his PHI is being used, and even though it is in the notice which he didn't take when offered, he was forced or coerced not to take a copy?
Now, thanks to Christina Solis, Privacy Officer and HIPAA Compliance Coordinator at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, there might be a more creative solution: give the patient a laminated copy of the NOPP and offer them a paper copy if they want to take one with them. Given the size of the average NOPP, the laminated copy should be about the size of a large plastic placemat (probably printed both sides). When you give them the laminated copy, you have complied with the HIPAA requirement regarding delivery. The individual isn't going to be interested in taking the laminated copy; it's too big and bulky. But if you make clear that they can take (and even encourage them to take) a hard paper copy, there would be little room for complaint that they forced or coerced to leave behind their own copy.
The only downside I can see is the old "Southwest Airline Boarding Pass" concern. Remember when they used those plastic boarding passes, and you'd see people sitting around the gate area, using the pass (which had been who knows where in how many hands) to pick their teeth or shield their mouth while they coughed or sneezed? You'd have to keep the laminated cards wiped down, especially in a doctor's office where lots of germs can be spread around.
Jeff [10:42 AM]
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