HIPAA patient advocacyThe Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced a new educational campaign geared toward HIPAA patient advocacy.

The announcement is a part of a new OCR initiative, which was unveiled on September 7th, 2017, entitled “Get it. Check it. Use it.”

This marks a step by OCR toward greater transparency in the HIPAA compliance process and for patient education about their rights under HIPAA privacy and security regulations. This and other patient advocacy initiatives have been becoming more commonplace in the past few years, and OCR continues to stress education about the HIPAA rules. In the aftermath of data breaches and HIPAA violations stemming from the improper use of patient data, OCR is prioritizing education on HIPAA privacy rights to avoid and mitigate future incidents.

Patient Advocacy Under HIPAA Rules

OCR’s guiding principles in the “Get it. Check it. Use it.” campaign have been for patients to realize that “access to your health information is your right” and “information is powerful medicine.”

The patient advocacy campaign stresses the importance of HIPAA compliance, and gives patients powerful knowledge about their rights to data under the federal regulation. Patients are becoming more and more aware of their rights via news stories about data breaches and HIPAA violations reaching the headlines every day. Now, with a formalized HIPAA education program in place, patients will have access to this information at their fingertips.

In order to educate patients about their rights to access and obtain copies of their medical information and the privacy and security measures in place to keep it all protected, OCR has adopted three pillars:

  • “Get it.” Instructing patients that they can request copies of their medical info from health care professionals.
  • “Check it.” Ensuring that patients have the right to review their medical record for accuracy and suggest corrections.
  • “Use it.” Telling patients that they can leverage the health information stored in their medical record to improve and facilitate communication and care.

With patients more and educated about HIPAA than ever before, it’s never been more important to have an effective and complete HIPAA compliance program in your practice to keep you safe. Whistleblower cases account for hundreds of reports of HIPAA violations a year. Your practice could be exposed to hefty government fines without the proper protections in place.