AOA revised HIPAA privacy notices now available

August 5, 2013

New AOA Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Notice of Privacy Practices forms – reflecting new, more stringent, federal privacy protection standards – are now available for optometric practices through the AOA Marketplace.

The new AOA HIPAA Notice of Privacy Practices assures patients their optometric practice strictly adheres to all federal privacy protection regulations.

The form specifically notes that, in line with new HIPAA standards, no federally protected health information (PHI) will be sold or used for marketing without authorization from the individual patient.

In line with the new HIPAA regulations, it also notes that a patient may now request a practice to withhold disclosure of PHI related to a particular service to a health plan, if the patient has paid for the services out-of-pocket.

Federal law requires health care practitioners to provide all patients with notices of the measurers taken in their practices to protect patient information in line with the HIPAA regulations.

Failure to provide the required notices or meet federal privacy protection standards may result in investigations and possible civil/criminal penalties.

Although the new rules technically took effect in March, optometrists and other health care entities have until Sept. 23 to comply.

In light of the new regulations, optometric practices should provide an updated HIPAA Notice of Privacy Practices to all patients. For new patients, this means distributing the notice at the time of the first office visit. For existing patients, the new policy should be available upon request. In addition, a copy of the updated notice should be posted in a prominent location on the practice premises and on the practice website, if it is currently posted on the web. Practices should cease use of any old HIPAA privacy practice notices; however, a copy should be retained along with any written acknowledgments of receipt from patients.

New AOA HIPAA Notice of Privacy Practice forms are available now for immediate shipment by calling 800-262-2210 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. CST, Monday through Friday or by emailing orders@aoa.org. AOA members should include their member numbers when contacting AOA Marketplace to qualify for a member discount.

The AOA Office of General Counsel developed the new forms in conjunction with HIPAA experts at the law firm of Stinson Morrison Hecker.

The AOA HIPAA Notice of Privacy Practices form is offered as a resource. It is not intended to suit all optometry practices or to constitute legal advice. Practicing optometrists should review the form with their legal counsel to ensure it reflects any applicable state privacy protection regulations and the actual privacy protection measures taken in their offices.

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