[ Tuesday, October 19, 2004 ]


Tips for Complying with Requests for Confidential Communications: HIPAA requires covered entities to accomodate reasonable requests from patients that their information be communicated to them in alternative confidential means. For example, a patient has a right to request that her physician not call her house with information, but only contact her at her office address and phone number. It can be tricky complying with these requests, and some covered entities approach them my adopting a blanket policy of refusing any such request as "unreasonable." That's improper under HIPAA; you can do that with requests for restrictions on uses otherwise allowed and described in your Notice of Privacy Practices, but you must grant reasonable requests for alternative communications. So how do you deal with those requests, and once they've been made and you've determined that they are reasonable, how do you make sure everyone in your operations complies?

From Medical Newswire's e-mail service come four great tips for keeping your promises: First, start at registration by asking the patient where she would like her medical communications to go. While you may be opening a can of worms letting the patients know off the bat that they can request alternative means of communication, you can also built into your system the quick determination of the default address/phone number for communicating with them. Secondly, get the request for alternative communication in writing. This can be done in the registration process. It will give your staff some place to look to find out if there's a communication issue, and it will protect you if the patient later claims that an alternative communication request was made. Thirdly, designate a point person to be in charge of making sure requests are documented. Finally, don't separate the patient from the request. If the request is only in the medical record and some of your staff never looks at the medical record, they may never know of the request. If your reception staff only looks at patient contact information, make sure the request is noted there as well as in the medical record.

That's some good advice.

Jeff [10:09 AM]

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