Blog | Friday, January 23, 2009

Let's talk about HIPAA (but not on your cell)

The sign in my pharmacy reads: "To comply with HIPAA regulations, we will gladly help you when you are finished with your cell phone conversation." I've seen similar signs in doctors' offices over the years.

HIPAA was meant to regulate health privacy, not common manners. HIPAA is being used as a bogeyman in this case. This makes HIPAA even harder for health care workers to understand, and they're already paranoid about not triggering a violation.

If the concern is that someone may disclose protected health information over a cell phone, follow the "elevator rule" and don't talk in open areas about private information. But if the concern is speeding service for all by making sure people aren't standing at the front desk gabbing, say that instead.

ACP's practice management staff say HIPAA is a frequent source of confusion, and they offer plenty of HIPAA compliance information. They're glad to help our members understand the rules, too ... as soon as you complete your cell phone call.