NOTICE OF PRIVACY PRACTICES
Original effective date: 2003
Effective date of last Revision: February 2021
THIS NOTICE DESCRIBES HOW MEDICAL INFORMATION ABOUT YOU MAY BE USED AND DISCLOSED AND HOW YOU CAN GET ACCESS TO THIS INFORMATION
PLEASE REVIEW IT CAREFULLY
Embracing HospiceCare is legally required to protect the privacy of your health information. This information is called “protected health information” or “PHI” and it includes information that can be used to identify you that we have created or received about your past, present or future health or condition, the provision of healthcare to you or the payment of the healthcare. We must provide you or your personal representative with this notice about our privacy practices that explains how, when and why we use and disclose your PHI. With some exceptions, we may not use or disclose any more of your PHI than is necessary to accomplish the purpose of the use or disclosure. We are legally required to follow the privacy practices that are described in this notice.
However, we reserve the right to make changes to this notice at any time and to make such changes effective for all PHI we may already have about you. If and when this notice is changed, we will post a copy in our office in a prominent location. We also will provide you or your personal representative with a copy of the revised notice upon your request made to the Privacy Officer or you can view a copy of the notice on our website at www.EmbracingHospiceCare.org
HOW EMBRACING HOSPICECARE MAY USE AND DISCLOSE YOUR PHI
The following categories describe different ways that we use and disclose your PHI. For each category of uses or disclosures, we will explain what we mean and try to give you some examples. Not every use or disclosure in a category will be listed. However, all of the ways we are permitted to use and disclose information will fall within one of the categories.
Treatment: Embracing HospiceCare may use your PHI to coordinate care within Embracing HospiceCare and with others involved in your care, such as your attending physician, members of the hospice interdisciplinary team and other healthcare professionals who have agreed to assist Embracing HospiceCare in coordinating care. For example, physicians involved in your care will need information about your symptoms in order to prescribe appropriate medications. Embracing HospiceCare also may disclose your PHI to individuals outside of Embracing HospiceCare involved in your care including family members, clergy whom you have designated, pharmacists, suppliers of medical equipment or other healthcare professionals that Embracing HospiceCare uses to coordinate your care.
To Obtain Payment: Embracing HospiceCare may use and disclose PHI so that we can bill and collect payment for the treatment and services provided to you. Before providing treatment or services, we may share details with your health plan concerning the services you are scheduled to receive. For example, we may ask for payment approval from your health plan before we provide care or services. We may use and disclose PHI to find out if your health plan will cover the cost of care and services we provide. We may use and disclose PHI to confirm you are receiving the appropriate amount of care to obtain payment for services. We may use and disclose PHI for billing, claims management, and collection activities. We may disclose PHI to insurance companies providing you with additional coverage. We may disclose limited PHI to consumer reporting agencies relating to collection of payments owed to us. We also may disclose PHI to another healthcare provider or to a company or health plan required to comply with the HIPAA Privacy Rule for the payment activities of that health care provider, company, or health plan. For example, we may allow a health insurance company to review PHI for the insurance company’s activities to determine the insurance benefits to be paid for your care.
To Conduct Healthcare Operations: Embracing HospiceCare may use and disclose PHI in performing business activities which are called Healthcare Operations. Healthcare Operations include doing things that facilitate the function of Embracing HospiceCare and allows us to provide quality care to our patients. Embracing HospiceCare may share PHI with each other for these purposes. Healthcare operations include such activities as:
- quality assessment and improvement activities;
- activities designed to improve health or reduce health care costs;
- protocol development, case management and care coordination;
- contacting health care providers and patients with information about treatment alternatives and other related functions that do not include treatment;
- professional review and performance evaluation;
- training programs including those in which students, trainees or practitioners in health care learn under supervision;
- training of non-health care professionals;
- accreditation, certification, licensing or credentialing activities;
- review and auditing, including compliance reviews, medical reviews, legal services and compliance programs;
- business planning and development including cost management and planning related analyses and formulary development;
- business management and general administrative activities of Embracing HospiceCare
For example Embracing HospiceCare may use your PHI to evaluate its staff performance, combine your PHI with other Embracing HospiceCare patients in evaluating how to more effectively serve all patients, disclose your PHI to Embracing HospiceCare staff and contracted personnel for training purposes. To inform you of appointment reminders and health-related benefits. Embracing HospiceCare may contact you to remind you of appointments or staff visits and to provide you with information about treatment alternatives or other health-related benefits and services that may be of interest to you.
OTHER USES AND DISCLOSURES WE CAN MAKE WITHOUT YOUR WRITTEN AUTHORIZATION OR OPPORTUNITY TO AGREE OR OBJECT
We may use and disclose PHI about you in the following circumstances without your authorization or opportunity to agree or object, provided that we comply with certain conditions that may apply.
To Business Associates: Embracing HospiceCare may use or disclose certain PHI about you to business associates. A business associate is an individual or entity under contract with Embracing HospiceCare to perform or assist Embracing HospiceCare in a function or activity which necessitates the use or disclosure of PHI. Examples of business associates, include, but are not limited to, consultants, accountants, lawyers, medical transcription companies and medical record storage companies. Embracing HospiceCare requires the business associates to protect the confidentiality of your PHI.
When Legally Required. Embracing HospiceCare will disclose your PHI when it is required to do so by any Federal, State or local law.
When There Are Risks to Public Health. Embracing HospiceCare may disclose your PHI for public activities and purposes in order to:
- Prevent or control disease, injury or disability, report disease, injury, vital events such as birth or death and the conduct of public health surveillance, investigations and interventions.
- To report adverse events, product defects, to track products or enable product recalls, repairs and replacements and to conduct post-marketing surveillance and compliance with requirements of the Food and Drug Administration.
- To notify a person who has been exposed to a communicable disease or who may be at risk of contracting or spreading a disease.
- To an employer about an individual who is a member of the workforce as legally required.
To Report Abuse, Neglect or Domestic Violence: Embracing HospiceCare is allowed to notify government authorities if Embracing HospiceCare believes a patient is the victim of abuse, neglect or domestic violence. Embracing HospiceCare will make this disclosure only when specifically required or authorized by law or when the patient agrees to the disclosure.
To Conduct Health Oversight Activities: Embracing HospiceCare may disclose your PHI to a health oversight agency for activities including audits, civil, administrative or criminal investigations, inspections, licensure or disciplinary action. However, Embracing HospiceCare may not disclose your PHI if you are the subject of an investigation and your PHI is not directly related to your receipt of healthcare or public benefits.
In Connection with Judicial and Administrative Proceedings: Embracing Hospicecare may disclose your PHI in the course of any judicial or administrative proceeding in response to an order of a court or administrative tribunal as expressly authorized by such order or in response to a subpoena, discovery request or other lawful process, but only when Embracing HospiceCare makes reasonable efforts to either notify you about the request or to obtain an order protecting your PHI.
For Law Enforcement Purposes .Embracing HospiceCare may disclose your PHI to a law enforcement official for law enforcement purposes as follows:
- As required by law for reporting of certain types of wounds or other physical injuries pursuant to a court order, warrant, subpoena or summons or similar process.
- For the purpose of identifying or locating a suspect, fugitive, material witness or missing person.
- Under certain limited circumstances, when you are the victim of a crime.
- To a law enforcement official if Embracing HospiceCare has a suspicion that your death was the result of criminal conduct including criminal conduct by Embracing HospiceCare staff.
- In an emergency to report a crime.
To Coroners and Medical Examiners .Embracing HospiceCare may disclose your PHI to coroners and medical examiners for purposes of determining your cause of death or for other duties, as authorized by law.
To Funeral Directors. Embracing HospiceCare may disclose your PHI to funeral directors consistent with applicable law and, if necessary, to carry out their duties with respect to your funeral arrangements. If necessary to carry out their duties, Embracing Hospice Care may disclose your PHI prior to and in reasonable anticipation of your death.
For Organ, Eye or Tissue Donation. Embracing HospiceCare may use or disclose your PHI to organ procurement organizations or other entities engaged in the procurement, banking or transplantation of organs, eyes or tissue for the purpose of facilitating the donation and transplantation.
Limited Data Set: Embracing HospiceCare may use or disclose a limited data set of your health information, that is, a subset of your health information for which all identifying information has been removed, for purposed of research, public health or health care operations. Prior to our release, any recipient of that limited data set must agree to appropriately safeguard your health information.
In the Event of a Serious Threat to Health or Safety. Embracing HospiceCare may, consistent with applicable law and ethical standards of conduct, disclose your PHI if Embracing HospiceCare in good faith, believes that such disclosure is necessary to prevent or lessen a serious and imminent threat to your health or safety or to the health and safety of the public. Embracing HospiceCare may release information regarding a diagnosis of AIDS or results of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) tests to the extent permitted by law.
For Specified Government Functions. In certain circumstances, federal regulations authorize Embracing HospiceCare use or disclose your PHI to facilitate specified government functions relating to military and veterans, national security and intelligence activities, protective services for the President and others, medical suitability determinations, and inmates and law enforcement custody.
For Worker’s Compensation. Embracing HospiceCare may release your PHI for worker’s compensation or similar programs.
Other uses or disclosures of health information
Except as otherwise permitted or required by this Notice of Privacy Practices, the Hospice will not use or disclose your health information unless you provide them with written authorization, or the party has received verbal authorization from you by having knowledge of your correct PIN ( Personal identification) number). You may revoke that authorization in writing at any time. If you revoke your authorization Embracing HospiceCare will no longer use or disclose health information about you for the reasons covered by your written authorization, except to the extent that Embracing HospiceCare has taken action in reliance there in. You understand that Embracing HospiceCare is unable to keep back any disclosures it has already made under the authorization, and that Embracing HospiceCare is required to retain our records of the care that it has provided.
OTHER USES AND DISCLOSURES WE CAN MAKE WITHOUT YOUR WRITTEN AUTHORIZATION FOR WHICH YOU HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO AGREE OR Embracing HospiceCare may use and disclose PHI about you in some situations where you have the opportunity to agree or object to certain uses and disclosures of PHI about you. If you do not object, then we may make these types of uses and disclosures of PHI.
To individuals Involved in Your Care or Payment for Your .Embracing HospiceCare may disclose PHI about you to your family member, close friend or any other person identified by you ( they have knowledge of your PIN#) if that information is directly relevant to the person’s involvement in your care or payment for your care. If you are present and able to consent or object (or if you are available in advance), then we only may use or disclose PHI if you do not object after you have been informed of your opportunity to object. If you are not present or you are unable to consent or object, we may exercise professional judgment in determining whether the use or disclosure of PHI is in your best interest. For example, if you are unable to communicate normally with your physician or the Embracing HospiceCare staff for some reason, we may find it is in your best interest to give your prescription or other medical supplies to the caregiver, relative or other individual who is delegated to be responsible for your healthcare. We also may use and disclose PHI to notify such persons of your location, general condition or death. We also may coordinate with disaster relief agencies to make this type of notification, as necessary. We also may use professional judgment and our experience with common practice to make reasonable decisions about your best interests in allowing a person to act on your behalf to pick up filled prescriptions, medical supplies, x-rays or other items that contain PHI about you.
YOUR RIGHTS WITH RESPECT TO YOUR PHI
You have the following rights regarding your PHI that Embracing HospiceCare maintains:
Right to request restrictions. You may request restrictions on the PHI we use or disclose about you for treatment, payment or healthcare operations. You have the right to request a limit on Embracing HospiceCare disclosure of your PHI to someone who is involved in your care or the payment of your care. For example, you may ask that we do not use or disclose information about a procedure you had. However, Embracing HospiceCare is not required to agree to your request. If you paid out-of pocket for a specific item or service, you have the right to request that PHI with respect to that item or service not be disclosed to a health plan for purposes of payment or health care operations, and Embracing HospiceCare is required to honor that request. If you wish to make a request for restrictions, please send a written request to the program director of the branch that is servicing you or your loved one. The written request should include what information you want to limit, whether you want to limit our use, disclosure or both and to whom you want the limits to apply, for example, disclosures to your spouse. Embracing HospieCare is not obligated to notify downstream providers of the individuals request for a restriction. Embracing HospiceCare will notify the individual requesting restriction of the downstream providers who have access to the person’s PHI and advise them that they need to separately exercise this right with the other providers. It is important to note that individuals may not exercise this right where Embracing HospiceCare is required by State or other law to submit a claim to a health plan for services provided to an individual and such law does not include an exception for individuals paying out- of- pocket.
Right to receive confidential communications. You have the right to request that Embracing HospiceCare communicate with you in a certain way. For example, you may ask that Embracing HospiceCare only conduct communications pertaining to your PHI with you by mail or privately with no other family members present. If you wish to receive confidential communications, please make a written request to the Embracing Hospice Care Program Director;
that specifies how and when you wish to be contacted. Embracing HospiceCare will not request that you provide any reasons for your request and will attempt to honor your reasonable requests for confidential communications.
Right to inspect and copy your PHI. You have the right to inspect and copy your PHI, including billing records. A written request to inspect and copy records containing your PHI may be made to the Program Director.
Right to receive PHI information electronically: you have the right to obtain an electronic coy of PHI maintained in a “designated record set’ electronically. A designate record set includes medical and billing records maintained by or for a covered entity provider, as well as any other records used in whole or part by or for a covered entity provider to make decisions about patients. The information will provide an individual with access to their electronic information upon request and in the electronic information upon written request and in the electronic format requested if that format is readily producible. If the requested format is not available, then a mutually agreed upon format e.g. Microsoft Word or Excel, text-based PDF must be provided. Embracing HospiceCare is not required to provide individuals with unlimited choices in terms of available electronic forms. If the individual requests an electronic copy of PHI through unencrypted e-mail, Embracing HospiceCare will advise the individual of the risk associated with the request. If the individual still wants the information transmitted Embracing HospiceCare will not be responsible for any unauthorized access of PHI while in transmission or for safeguarding PHI once delivered to the individual.
Right to request that Embracing HospiceCare and/or their Business Associates provide a copy of PHI directly to a designated individual. This applies to both paper and electronic information. Any such request must be in writing, singed by the individual and must clearly identify the designated recipient and where the information should be sent. Embracing HospiceCare will use reasonable verification procedures to verify the identity and authority of the requesting individual prior to disclosing any information.
Time frame for providing access to records: Embracing HospiceCare will provide access to records within 30 days of receipt of the written request, with the option of a one-time 30 day extension. Embracing HospiceCare reserves the right to extend the time frame by 30 days.
Right to amend healthcare information. If you or your representative believes
that your PHI is incorrect or incomplete, you may request that Embracing HospcieCare amend the records. That request may be made as long as the information is maintained by Embracing HospiceCare. A request for an amendment of records must be made in writing to the Program Director . Embracing HospiceCare may deny the request if it is not in writing or does not include a reason for the amendment. The request also may be denied if your PHI records were not created by Embracing HospiceCare, if the records you are requesting are not part of the Embracing HospiceCare records, if the PHI you wish to amend is not part of the PHI you or your representative are permitted to inspect and copy, or if, in Embracing HospiceCare opinion, the records containing your PHI are accurate and complete.
Right to an accounting. You or your representative has the right to request an accounting of disclosures of your PHI made by Embracing HospiceCare for any reason other than for treatment, payment or health operations unless the disclosure for treatment, payment or health operations was in the form of an electronic health record. The request for an accounting must be made in writing to the Program Director. The request should specify the time period for the accounting starting no earlier than November 1, 2002. Accounting requests may not be made for periods of time in excess of six years. Accounting requests relating to electronic health record disclosures described above may not be made for periods of time in excess of three years. Embracing HospiceCare will provide the first accounting you request during any 12-month period without charge. Subsequent accounting requests may be subject to a reasonable cost-based fee.
Right to a paper copy of this notice. You or your representative has a right to a separate paper copy of this notice at any time even if you or your representative have received this notice previously or even if you previously requested an electronic copy. To obtain a separate paper copy, please contact the Privacy Officer, Richard Tangolics, at 732-974-2545.
You or your representativemay obtain a copy of the current version of the Notice of Privacy Practices onour website at www.EmbracingHospiceCare.org
Right to Receive Notice of a Breach. Embracing HospiceCare is required to notify you by first class mail or by e-mail (if you have indicated a preference to receive information by e-mail), of any breaches of Unsecured Protected Health Information as soon as possible, but in any event, no later than 60 days following the discovery of the breach. “Unsecured Protected Health Information” is information that is not secured through the use of a technology or methodology identified by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to render the PHI unusable, unreadable, and undecipherable to unauthorized users. The notice is required to include the following information:
- a brief description of the breach, including the date of the breach and the date of its discovery, if known;
- a description of the type of Unsecured Protected Health Information involvedin the breach;
- steps you should take to protect yourself from potential harm resulting from the breach;
- a brief description of actions we are taking to investigate the breach, mitigate losses, and protect against further breaches;
- contact information, including a toll-free telephone number, e-mail address, Web site or postal address to permit you to ask questions or obtain additional information.