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HIPAA Laws Get Updated

Recently, changes were made to federal privacy laws (also known as HIPAA) to help strengthen protection for patient privacy rights, and were initiated as a result of the escalating use of electronic medical records and the concern that the current rules aren’t strong enough to address situations that may arise.

“The changing HIPAA laws led us to update PHS’ privacy notice to reflect the changes to our patients and families – the result is a clear, easy to read document that highlights the rights and uses of patient Protected Health Information,” said Josh Larson, Director of Compliance & Quality at PHS. “We always want our families to know of any new or changed information regarding their health information privacy and security rights.”

So, what are the main changes?

  • Business associates (BA) have to meet the same requirements that a healthcare provider has to meet when protecting patient information, both in hard copy form as well as electronic. Who are business associates? Other companies PHS works with to help us bring our families the highest level of service, such as vendors who supply custom tracheostomies, shred our confidential paper, or provide interpretation services. With the increased use of electronic records, it’s essential to ensure they’re meeting the same requirements as healthcare providers.

“Pediatric Home Service has a number of security measures in place to ensure patient information is protected, and those we work with professionally need to be held to the same standard,” said Josh.

Protecting patient information means measures are in place to secure any e-mail, company systems and electronic medical records that hold identifying information of a patient. The new business associate agreement PHS created for those we work with states the BA must meet HIPAA requirements for securing and protecting patient information, including information on electronic devices.

  • Patients now have a right to ask that healthcare providers not disclose their health information for services they pay for in full and out of pocket. For instance, if a patient goes to a clinic and pays for a test in full and out of pocket, they can then tell the doctor not to share the service or testing with their insurance.
  • Patients have the right to access their electronic information held in an electronic health record if their healthcare provider is using an electronic record.

Things that changed but you won’t see at PHS…

  • Patients now have to authorize any marketing they receive directly from healthcare entities or business associates, with exception to certain situations, including medication refills.
  • Individuals now have a right to opt out of receiving fundraising communications.

Larson, Joshua 1As always, we will never sell patient information to anyone for any reason. Our commitment to privacy and patient health information rights is taken very seriously, and we want to ensure changes or updates are as transparent as possible. If you have any questions, please contact Josh Larson at

If you would like a copy of the update privacy notice, you can find it here on the website or by calling PHS at 651-642-1825 to request that a hard copy be sent to your home.

Originally published: October 25, 2013