HIPAA and Home Care: Knowing Your Privacy Rights

Whether you are inviting a caregiver into your home, or inviting a care manager onto your healthcare team, it can feel like a vulnerable act to ask for help. In the digital age, with stories of data breaches and security risks, we tend to hold onto our personal information very tightly. As we age, and need assistance and advocacy, we are left with the difficult task of trusting our private information to other entities providing services. This might include private health information, insurance and Medicare information, credit card and payment information, etc. Being a good healthcare consumer and making safe choices begins with knowing your privacy rights and expecting the highest level of security from your service providers.

What is HIPAA?  

The Health Information Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, is a federal law that created a set of national standards to appropriately balance the privacy and disclosure of patients’ medical records and personal information .These safeguards help assure the necessary confidentiality and accessibility that is needed to provide care. For more information regarding HIPAA, visit the Dept. of Health and Human Services website: http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/understanding/ 

Sound Options | Notice of Privacy Practices  

When you begin services with Sound Options, clients and family are provided with a Notice of Privacy Practices, which is also always available on the Sound Options website: Notice of Privacy Practices  This notice describes how medical information about you may be used and disclosed and how you can get access to this information.

For example, you have the right to:

  • Get a copy of your paperwork or electronic medical record
  • Correct your paper or electronic medical record
  • Request confidential communication
  • Ask us to limit the information we share
  • Get a list of the information we share
  • Get a list of those with whom we’ve shared your information
  • Get a copy of this privacy notice
  • Choose someone to act for you
  • File a complaint if you believe your privacy rights have been violated

Sound Options | Client Consent Form 

In order for Caregivers and Geriatric Care Managers to advocate, direct, and provide care it is important that they are able to access and disclose important health information in an appropriate manner. In order to best serve our clients, we have a single consent form that grants Sound Options the ability to appropriatly disclose protected health information to carry out treatment, payment, and healthcare operations. This form is always available to our clients on our website. Client Consent Form 

Plan of Care: Private Information in the Home

While caregivers do not have access to the full medical records of clients with Sound Options, they are provided with a current "plan of care" within the home which serves to guide their activity and care. This may include pertinent diagnosis, allergies, medications, care tasks, and address information. Caregivers take the privacy of each client very seriously and are often gatekeepers of sensitive information around other family members and friends, respecting the wishes of each client. As part of their role, they document notes for each shift they complete in a non-biased and professional manner. They may also discuss private health information with other caregivers or the care manager involved in the direct service of that client. However, they will not share private information with other caregivers working with different clients.

Geriatric Care Managers and Privacy

As the role of a care managers includes guiding and overseeing the care of their clients they are often the ones helping families navigate the healthcare maze. They are able to translate the medical jargon so families can understand the day-to-day impact for their loved ones and plan for the future. In an emergency such a discharge from the hospital they are also able to coordinate transitional services and appropriately address the care needs that would normally fall to the family of the aging loved one. This advocacy, coordination, and guidance require access to health information in a timely fashion. The client consent form acts as a permission slip for doctors, care managers, and other healthcare professionals to share current medical information and save valuable time in an emergency.

When selecting a home care agency or geriartic care manager, look for transparency and documentation of your rights. It is important to know that your private information is in safe hands, well protected, and accessible to the right people at the right times. For home care and security you can trust, you have Sound Options. Give us a call today 800.628.7649. 

Published on October 27, 2014.