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HIPAA rule affects medication e-reminders

November 22, 2013

Recent changes to the federal Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule’s marketing provisions apply to electronic refill reminders and other e-communications about drugs or biologics currently being prescribed for individuals.

To summarize, e-communications intended solely to benefit the patient, such as refill reminders, notices regarding a recently lapsed prescription, or reminders to take prescribed medicines as directed, are specifically allowed under the guidance. Marketing communications involving renumeration from product manufacturers are not.

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights produced a new fact sheet and corresponding set of frequently asked questions explaining how a refill reminder exception to the marketing rule works. It addresses the scope of communications falling within the exception, the types of third-party payments considered reasonable under the statute, and regulations for making such communications.

Revisions to the HIPAA Privacy Rule took effect Sept. 23. However, to give health care practitioners a chance to review the new guidance, the HHS is delaying enforcement of restrictions on remunerated refill reminders and other communications about drugs and biologics for a period of 45 days (until Nov 7, 2013).

The new HHS guidance materials are available at www.hhs.gov/ocr/hipaa.

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