HIPAA in 2021 - Critical Compliance Concerns in the Year AheadJuly 7, 2021 - CA US
The rules having to do with patient access of records need to be reflected in every health care-related organization's policies and procedures. The guidance provides clear and detailed information on how to provide access, what can be charged for in fees, and what the individual's rights are when it comes to access of information. The rallying cry for easy patient access and transfer of information increases daily and is no longer escapable. At the same time, a recent Federal court decision has changed some of the aspects of the individual access rules pertaining to transmitting records to third parties at the request of the individual. Additionally, HHS has issued guidance when HIPAA Business Associates are involved, regarding the responsibility for the timing, and form and format of replies to requests for access, and the responsibilities for compliance with the fee requirements. To top it off, individual access rules may be modified under the proposed HIPAA rule changes, reducing the time to provide requested information, and making access easier for individuals. The COVID-19 Emergency has created new demands on communications, and has made clear the need to provide services remotely to the extent possible. Providers need to communicate more, between themselves and with their patients, and the time to implementation of new services to meet these needs is almost zero, leaving no room for the usual processes of approval and adoption that health care is used to. In order to facilitate the delivery of services and necessary communications during the emergency, the US Department of Health and Human Services has issued guidance relaxing some HIPAA requirements pertaining to teleconferencing tools and reiterating HIPAA allowances for communication with family and friends of patients.