Are You Hip to the New HIPAA Regs?

Have any plans for this weekend? Well, you might want to plan an afternoon of quality time with the new HIPAA regulations, just released last week, and effective this month! (Although they go into effect this month, you have until September of this year to become fully compliant.)

These updates clarify how use can use your client/patient information, including how it may be used for marketing purposes. For instance, the new regulations specify exactly which activities constitute marketing, and which are considered patient communication. So if you were to send a letter to your clients telling them about a new group that you are offering, you would need to know whether that is considered private practice marketing or patient communication. (Marketing has more stringent requirements than patient communication.)

The regulatations exclude “contacting patients about treatment alternatives” from the markeitng definition. However, written permission is required for non-health related promotions or communications, unless those communications are done face-to-face. I work with therapists who sell additional products, such as essential oils, or additional services, such as career coaching. Are these considered alternative therapies or non-health related promotions? That’s something you’ll need to determine to remain compliant with the new regulations.

You want to make sure you are completely clear how these new regulations define what you offer to your clients. If you offer additional products or services in your practice, you’ll need to understand how you can market them, and what specific written permission is required.

This post is not intended to be legal advice, merely informational to advise you of the new regulations. If you want specific advice about how these changes will affect your private practice marketing, you should contact an attorney.

You can read the entire Final Rule document (all 563 pages of it!) here. If you would like to get the specifics of the marketing changes, Bricker & Eckler LLP have posted a summary of them.