A Brief Introduction of HIPAA Release Form
Data breach issues have only increased in recent years. Health care or medical information is not immune to cyber-attacks that are aimed at leaking data and breaching privacy. In 1996, President Bill Clinton signed an act into law, namely HIPAA. HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. US healthcare industry deeply cares about HIPAA and is influenced by it. Initially, the purpose was to make sure that the employees of all organizations get health insurance coverage between jobs. Further, it was also aimed at healthcare organizations to secure patient data. However, It took many years for this purpose to get solved.
HIPAA also improved efficiency in the healthcare industry over the years. It made the industry adopt new ways to reduce the paperwork while identifying patients and transferring data between healthcare organizations and insurers.
This Form is one of the most important and crucial parts of the whole HIPAA program. As we know, health care professionals deal with protected health information (PHI) regularly, they require something that can seriously maintain patient privacy. It’s only when the proper authorization with the help of HIPAA Release Form is done by the patient that the healthcare providers can share their PHI with any third-party individuals or organizations.
Another name of HIPAA Release Form is the HIPAA Authorization Form.
Who Takes the HIPAA Release Form – People Involved
HIPAA Release Form is largely used by healthcare providers, insurance companies, and patients. Every time when health care companies or health care professionals require to disclose PHI of a patient that is not covered by the payment, treatment, or health care operations, then HIPAA Release Form pays huge role. In the absence of it, they can’t disclose PHI. While this serves the purpose of protecting the patient’s privacy, it also makes sure that the health care providers are following HIPAA rules.
Purpose of the HIPAA Release Form – Why Do You Need It
Healthcare infrastructure can be really complex and complicated for many. The providers keep a lot of sensitive information about many patients such as their illnesses, insurance bills, prescriptions, past medical history, home address, telephone number, email address, financial information, etc. They often might have to share this information with third parties, but when this is done without the authorization of patients, this becomes the case of privacy breach and violation of security. Hence, HIPAA and HIPAA Release Forms are a very important piece of document.
Here are some crucial and important purposes solved by the HIPAA Release Form –
- The form outline how PHI can be disclosed with a third party
- The form makes sure there is no breach of security and disclosure of information without the patient’s authorization
- Helps in providing the patient some security and assurance
- The form has helped to make health care businesses and health provider companies more alert and cautious
- Makes the patients aware of where their information is going to go
Here are few cases when HIPAA Release Form is required –
- Allows fair and secure disclosure of PHI to a third party
- Allows PHI disclosure for marketing or fundraising efforts
- Allows sharing of PHI for different kinds of research
- Useful when the Patient Form is expired or revoked
- Allows disclosure of any psychotherapy notes
- Allows PHI disclosure for monetary compensation
Contents of the HIPAA Release Form – Inclusions
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) remain extremely vigilant when it comes to HIPAA, HIPAA Release Form norms or any violations relating to it. Privacy over the year has become a major concern for most countries and protecting the people from any private information leak, or privacy breach has become an utmost priority. HIPAA and its components are extremely important for everyone to understand to secure yourself or secure businesses.
When it comes to drafting a HIPAA Release Form, businesses must make sure that the form is written in comprehensible language so that the patients understand it easily and there are no doubts. According to HIPAA regulations, communication with patients about their rights should be in plain language. The form must also be made available to the patients for review before obtaining their signature.
The form must mention that the patient has the right to revoke the authorization at any time they want. The form must also speak about the risk of the third party disclosing the information.
The form must also describe the type of PHI that will be shared and the purpose of each disclosure. It will contain all the basic details of the person authorizing disclosure (patient) and the person (s) receiving the authorization.
This form always has an expiry date beyond which the information can’t be shared with any third party. The form must specify the expiry date.
In the end, the signature of the patient is the most important inclusion of the HIPAA Release Form. The form should be signed and dated by the patient for authorization. If someone else is signing as a representative of the patient that the form must include a note of their relationship with the patient and any documentation of their authority.
How to Draft the HIPAA Release Form?
HIPAA is an extremely elaborate and comprehensive law that helps the patients and businesses both. While drafting the HIPAA Release Form, healthcare providers and professionals should be extremely cautious and be well aware of the rules and regulations. For instance, the provider can’t penalize the patient for not signing the form. It is the patient’s prerogative to agree to disclose the PHI to a third party. If both parties are aware of such nitty-gritty of the HIPAA Release Form, then it gets easier to deal with the complexities of it.
The providers should also know about HIPAA audits and the consequences of improper HIPAA Release Form work. Mistakes can lead to a violation of HIPAA regulations and HIPAA fine.
Further, while drafting the HIPAA Release Form, apart from basic details of the provider, patient and the third party, it is paramount to specify PHI that will be disclosed and the purpose of it. Patients are well within their rights to know the reasons behind any such disclosure.
If parents of patients are planning to represent the patient while signing the form, then HIPAA Authorization Form for family members will be applied. The parents will have to include a document describing their relationship.
Patients are protected by HIPAA and its regulations. They shouldn’t make any negotiations or compromises when it comes to their data security and safety. At the same time, it is expected from the patients and their families that they will remain vigilant. They should speak up for their rights and know how they are protected by the laws. Healthcare professionals should not try to make any negotiations with the patients. It can cost them a huge deal in the future.
Benefits & Drawbacks of the HIPAA Release Form
Here are some of the very important benefits of the HIPAA Release Form
- Makes sure that the Protected Health Information of patients is secured
- Ensures data security
- Ensure there are no improper disclosure of patients’ important information
- Protects the basic rights of patients
- Have the provision of punishing healthcare providers for their wrongdoing
- Puts a protocol in place for releasing information to a third party
- Allows the patient to know where their medical information is going and for what purpose
Even after a perfect implementation of HIPAA release form, there is a possibility that the third party whom you allowed your medical information further disclose it without your permission. These are some drawbacks of the Release Form, but authorities are more vigilant than ever before. Upon such a security breach, action can definitely be taken.
What Happens in Case of Violation?
It is important for everyone to know that HIPAA regulations can be followed using two forms. One of them is HIPAA Release Form, and the other is the HIPAA Privacy Rule(1). Since it can’t always be possible for the service providers to get the release form or authorization form signed repeatedly, privacy forms can be used. The main purpose of the Privacy Rule is to make sure that the privacy of patients is ensured while allowing health data to move between healthcare providers and third parties for certain crucial and important healthcare procedures. It also permits the patients to access the health data and make changes in it by requesting for changes in writing.
In case of any violation by the healthcare providers, while using either of these forms, they can be charged with a penalty and further, some serious actions can be taken against them for breaching the privacy of a patient.
HIPAA Release Form is one of the most crucial pieces of document to protect the patients. HIPAA has been doing great work in not just protecting the information of the patients but also in the overall betterment of the healthcare industry and their data management.
It is highly suggested that everyone understands the HIPAA rules and regulations entirely to know about the basic rights and also, about the danger of PHI leak. In any medical emergency case, a lack of knowledge about the HIPAA can cost a huge deal. Privacy rules of HIPAA have made it a little easier for the patients and the healthcare providers now because it allows the disclosure of important information relating to treatment, payment, or health care operations, etc. without the authorization. However, for information beyond this, disclosures require release forms.