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If I conduct an email survey to determine whether a patient…

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If I conduct an email...
If I conduct an email survey to determine whether a patient feels the Doctor(s) was attentive, whether the staff was courteous and overall satisfaction, without discussing past, present or future medical condition, treatment, charges and the like, does this require a HIPAA release and compliance?
Submitted: 2 years ago.Category: Legal
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6/11/2015
Lawyer: ScottyMacEsq, Attorney replied 2 years ago
ScottyMacEsq
ScottyMacEsq, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 18,123
Experience: Licensed Texas General Practice Attorney
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Thank you for using JustAnswer. Under the HIPAA privacy regulations, health care providers may conduct "quality assessment and improvement activities" as part of the health care provider's health care operations. A survey or questionnaire that determines whether patients were satisfied with the quality of care they received would be a quality assessment and improvement activity and, therefore, considered health care operations. Before conducting these activities, however, the health care provider must state in its notice of information practices that it may use identifiable health information for the health care provider's health care operations. If a health care provider agrees to a restriction on its use of a patient's health information, any use of information for health care operations, including patient surveys, would be limited by that restriction. In addition, if a patient makes a request for "confidential communications," for example, specifying how or where the health care provider may contact the patient, the health care provider must accommodate any reasonable request. Finally, state laws may limit the use of identifiable health information for these purposes. A health care provider may hire a vendor to conduct the surveys on the health care provider's behalf pursuant to a business associate agreement under HIPAA. Hope that clears things up a bit. If you have any other questions, please let me know. If not, and you have not yet, please rate my answer AND press the "submit" button, if applicable. Please note that I don't get any credit for my answer unless and until you rate it a 3, 4, 5 (good or better). Thank you, ***** ***** luck to you!
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Customer reply replied 2 years ago
Thanks for the quick answer. We would like to post the positive responses online anonymously to promote the practice (ie, a response such as "I felt the Dr. X was attentive, and his staff caring and the treatment was helpful...") Does that make a difference?
Also, my concern is that HIPAA PHI "relates to the past, present, or future physical or mental health or condition of any individual, the provision of health care to an individual, or the past, present, or future payment for the provision of health care to an individual.” If I don't get into health related information, why would HIPAA apply at all?
Lawyer: ScottyMacEsq, Attorney replied 2 years ago
Posting the responses should include a waiver, in that they should have the option to allow the responses to be viewed in public. It should not be done without the patient agreeing to it. As far as HIPAA applying at all, that's really up to Health and Human Services. I've seen companies ignore HIPAA because they thought it didn't apply, but in fact it did and they were assessed massive fines. The point is that you want to be careful as much as possible about it. Even mentioning that this is from a doctor or having a doctor's office as the return domain, etc... such that someone can glean that they had work done by a doctor could relate to HIPAA.
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Customer reply replied 2 years ago
That is my question, does it relate to HIPAA? We will not be asking health related questions, just satisfaction questions.
Lawyer: ScottyMacEsq, Attorney replied 2 years ago
It most likely does. If it can be determined that the recipient was a client of a doctor, that would be PHI. The specifics of what the doctor does, the procedures, etc... don't have to be disclosed. It's protected health information that there was a relationship.
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Customer reply replied 2 years ago
So a HIPAA release would be required?
Lawyer: ScottyMacEsq, Attorney replied 2 years ago
IF you wanted to put the statements on the internet, yes. You can conduct interviews without a HIPAA release because you can contact patients without that need. The release is to get a release for other parties, etc...
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Customer reply replied 2 years ago
The survey company that I hire needs a release? Isn't this a business associate?
Lawyer: ScottyMacEsq, Attorney replied 2 years ago
Yes, it is. They don't need a release. Did you read my response? I addressed business associates.
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Customer reply replied 2 years ago
If I don't need a release, why do they?
Lawyer: ScottyMacEsq, Attorney replied 2 years ago
I didn't say they do. I said to release information acquired from the patient to other parties you'd need a release.
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Lawyer: ScottyMacEsq, Attorney replied 2 years ago
If there's nothing else, please rate this answer. Please note that I don't get any credit for the time and effort that I spent on this answer unless and until you rate it a 3, 4, 5 (good or better) AND press the "submit" button, if applicable. If you feel that I have gone above and beyond in this answer (my average answer is about 10 minutes) bonuses are greatly appreciated. Thank you, ***** ***** luck to you!▼ RATING REQUIRED! ▼ Please don't forget to Rate my service as OK Service or higher. It's only then I am credited.
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Lawyer: ScottyMacEsq, Attorney replied 2 years ago
Did you have any other questions before you rate this answer?
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Lawyer: ScottyMacEsq, Attorney replied 2 years ago
Should I continue to await your response, or may I assist the other customers that are waiting?
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Lawyer: ScottyMacEsq, Attorney replied 2 years ago
My apologies, but I must assist the other customers that are waiting. If there's nothing else, please rate this answer. Please note that I don't get any credit for the time (>45 minutes) and effort that I spent on this answer unless and until you rate it a 3, 4, 5 (good or better) AND press the "submit" button, if applicable. If you feel that I have gone above and beyond in this answer (my average answer is about 10 minutes) bonuses are greatly appreciated. Thank you, ***** ***** luck to you!
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Lawyer: ScottyMacEsq, Attorney replied 2 years ago
I see that you have not responded in some time. Please note that this question is still open until you rate it. I believe that I have answered your question, but if you have any other questions, please let me know.If not, and you have not yet, please rate my answer. Please note that I don't get any credit for my answer unless and until you rate it a 3, 4, 5 (good or better). Thank you, ***** ***** good luck to you!
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Lawyer: ScottyMacEsq, Attorney replied 2 years ago
Hello?
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