HIPAA release forms and similar documents are “musts” in the highly regulated health care industry.
What would a day in the life of a health care employee be without HIPAA forms? Although pesky at times, these important documents really do make a difference to the overall security and privacy of patient data.
The forms come in many… well… forms, but the most commonly requested is the HIPAA Release Form. This document can go by other names, such as HIPAA Authorization Form or HIPAA Consent Form. However, each of these monikers refers to the same document.
The HIPAA release form is the mechanism by which a patient gives a provider permission to share personal medical records with someone else, which explains its increased popularity. In the U.S., 10,000 people turn 65 every day. Our aging population has led to a culture in which nearly 20 percent of Americans provide care for an adult with a disability or illness. Doing so without access to that person’s medical records would be incredibly challenging.
When Providers Must Obtain a HIPAA Authorization Form
A HIPAA-compliant authorization form allows a person or set of people to share specific health information with a doctor, hospital, health care provider, attorney, insurance underwriter or other relevant parties. There are additional reasons a practice must obtain a signature on a HIPAA authorization form, such as marketing products or services to the patient or to conduct research. If a patient refuses to sign a form of any kind, documentation of that refusal should be kept with the patient’s records.
Securing PHI Contained in HIPAA Authorization Form
Because these forms contain protected health care information (PHI), they must be stored and shared securely. Here are a few best practices for securing the PHI contained on these forms and in other areas of an organization:
- Conduct an evaluation: Obtain copies of all security policies and procedures. Are they up-to-date and comprehensive? Do they reflect any recent changes to the environment or operations?
- Examine PHI risk: Stretch beyond the usual suspects and dig deep into the individual vulnerabilities of data assets across the organization. Do your doctors take work laptops home? Do third-parties have access to PHI that creates an extra area of potential exposure?
- Create an Incident Response Plan (IRP): In today’s environment, the question is not will a breach happen to us; it’s when will a breach happen to us. Be ready to respond. Who do you need to notify? Who should be on the IR team? How will we quick patch exposed vulnerabilities?
Schedule a demo today to learn how our team can help you deploy these and other best practices around PHI data gathered on HIPAA forms.