We are empowering medical providers to serve patients wherever they are during this national public health emergency. We are especially concerned about reaching those most at risk, including older persons and persons with disabilities. – Roger Severino, OCR Director.
During the COVID-19 national emergency, which also constitutes a nationwide public health emergency, the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has provided guidance that helps explain how the HIPAA Privacy Rule allows patient information to be shared in the outbreak of infectious disease and to assist patients in receiving the care they need.
Does your organization collect and share consumer health information? When it comes to privacy, you’ve probably thought about the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). But did you know that you also need to comply with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Act? This means if you share health information, it’s not enough to simply consider the HIPAA Privacy Rule. You also must make sure your disclosure statements are not deceptive under the FTC Act.
Protecting public health, including through public health surveillance, program evaluation, terrorism preparedness, outbreak investigations, and other public health activities, often requires access to or the reporting of the protected health information of individuals. This information is used to identify, monitor, and respond to disease, death, and disability among populations.
The Privacy Rule recognizes the legitimate need for public health authorities and certain others to have access to protected health information for public health purposes and the importance of public health reporting by covered entities to identify threats to the public and individuals. Thus, the Privacy Rule permits covered entities to disclose protected health information without authorization for specified public health purposes.