The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and the Rhode Island Confidentiality of Health Care Communications and Information Act requires that Steere House inform you on how we may use and disclose your protected health information (PHI). By law, Steere House is required to maintain the privacy of your protected health information (PHI). This notice will describe our privacy practices, legal responsibilities and your rights concerning your PHI.
Protected health information (PHI) is defined as individually identifiable health information, including demographic information collected from you or created or received by a health care provider, a health plan, your employer or a health care clearinghouse, and that relates to: your past, present, or future physical or mental health or condition; the provision of health care to you; or the past, present, or future payment for the provision of health care to you.
Steere House uses and discloses PHI about you to carry out billing and payment activities, health care operations and for other purposes that are permitted or required by law. When using or disclosing your PHI for these purposes, Steere House will use or disclose just the minimum amount necessary to accomplish the task. Examples of these functions are:
Billing and Payment:
Steere House may use and disclose your PHI to your health insurance company, government entities or other entities responsible for payment of your health care services. We may disclose PHI to a payor to determine your eligibility for coverage under your designated health plan or to determine that the health care services you receive are appropriate and necessary.
Health Care Operations:
Steere House may use and disclose your PHI to support our business functions. Examples of these functions are quality assurance and quality improvement, care planning and care coordination, corporate compliance activities, to send you general information including our newsletter and fund raising materials, performance surveys and internal management audits. Steere House may disclose your PHI to qualified personnel for the purpose of conducting scientific research or similar studies provided that there are no individual identifiers in any report produced.
Family, Friends and Designated POA, DPOA for Health Care:
Only with your permission, may we disclose to a family member, a friend or to other persons you indicate who are involved in your care or payment for care, your PHI that is directly relevant to their involvement. We will disclose your PHI to an individual who has been designated by you as your personal representative and who has qualified for such designation in accordance with relevant state law. Before we will disclose PHI to such a person, you must submit a written notice of his/her designation, along with supporting documentation such as a power of attorney or durable power of attorney for health care.
Even if you designate a personal representative, the HIPAA Privacy Regulation permits Steere House to elect not to treat the person as your personal representative if we have reasonable belief that you may be subjected to abuse, neglect by such a person or treating such a person as your personal representative could endanger you.
Business Associates and Consultants:
Steere House contracts with individuals and entities called business associates which perform various functions on our behalf to provide you health care services. To perform the contracted services a business associate will receive, create, maintain, use or disclose PHI. Steere House will require every business associate to agree in writing to contract terms designed to appropriately safeguard the confidentiality and security of your PHI with access limited only to those individuals with a need to know your PHI. Examples of business associates are the pharmacy provider, radiology provider, laboratory provider, rehabilitation services provider, dental provider, dietitian, podiatrist and physicians treating you.
Providers and Other Covered Entities:
Steere House may use, receive or disclose your PHI to assist other health care providers in connection with their treatment or payment activities or to assist another entity which has a relationship with you and is subject to the HIPAA Privacy Regulation. Examples of these entities are hospital and health care entities to which you are moving to or will receive services from including home health care agencies, hospice, nursing facilities and assisted living entities.
There are circumstances in which Steere House may disclose your PHI to researchers without your authorization. Examples are research approved by an Institutional Review Board which has reviewed the research proposal and protocols to ensure the privacy of the information and approved the research or as part of a limited data set which includes no unique identifiers(name, address, social security number that might identify you).
Health and Safety:
Steere House may disclose PHI to the extent necessary to avert a serious and imminent threat to your or others safety and health. This includes acts of terrorism. Steere House may disclose your PHI to a government agency authorized to oversee the health care system or government programs or its contractors and to public health authorities if we reasonably believe that you are a possible victim of abuse, neglect or other crime.
Public Health Activities:
Steere House may use or disclose your PHI for public health activities that are permitted or required by law. Examples may be preventing or controlling disease, investigating reportable disease, certification and licensure of health professionals, certification and licensure of Steere House and review of health care services we provide as required by state and federal law.
Health Oversight Activities:
Steere House may disclose your PHI to a health oversight agency for activities authorized by law, such as: audits, investigations, inspections, licensure, disciplinary actions, civil, administrative or criminal proceedings or actions. Oversight agencies seeking this information include government agencies that oversee the health care system, government programs, government regulatory programs, government quality improvement organizations, and compliance with civil rights laws.
Required by Law:
Steere House may use or disclose your PHI when required by law. Examples of these agencies are attorney general’s office, Rhode Island Department of Health, Rhode Island Department of Human Services and the Rhode Island Ombudsman office.
Process and Proceedings:
Steere House may disclose your PHI in response to a court or administrative order, subpoena, discovery request or other lawful process in accordance with specified procedural safeguards. Steere House may disclose your PHI to law enforcement officials when required by law or other legal process, to provide evidence of a crime that occurred on our property or to protect the legal interest of an insurance entity.
Steere House may disclose your PHI to comply with workers’ compensation laws and other similar programs that provide benefits for work-related injuries or illnesses. We may also provide your PHI to the workers’ compensation fraud prevention unit for investigative purposes.
Secretary of DHHS:
Steere House is required to disclose your PHI to the United States Secretary for Health and Human Services, Department of Health and Human Services when the Secretary of his/her designee is investigating or determining Steere House compliance with the HIPAA Privacy Regulation.
Other uses and disclosures of your PHI that do not fall within one of the above categories will be made only with your written authorization. If you provide us with such an authorization, you may revoke the authorization in writing and this revocation will be effective for future uses and disclosures of PHI. The revocation will not be effective for information that Steere House has already used or disclosed relying on the authorization.