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.
Effective Date: April 14, 2003 Revised Date: November 19, 2018
We are committed to protect the privacy of your personal health information (PHI).
This Notice of Privacy Practices describes how we may use within our practice or network and disclose (share outside of our practice or network) your PHI to carry our treatment, payment, or health care operations. We may also share your information for other purposes that are permitted or required by law. This Notice also describes your rights to access and control your PHI.
We are required by law to maintain the privacy of your PHI. We will follow the terms outlined in this Notice.
We may change our Notice, at any time. Any changes will apply to all PHI. Upon your request, we will provide you with any revised Notice by:
- Posting the new Notice in our office.
- Posting the revised Notice on our website: gicolumbia.com
- If requested, making copies of the new Notice available in our office or by mail.
Uses and Disclosures of Protected Health Information
We may use or share your PHI to provide health care treatment for you.
Your PHI may be used and disclosed by your physician, our office staff and others outside of our office that are involved in your care and treatment for the purpose of providing health care services to you.
EXAMPLE: Your PHI may be provided to a physician to whom you have been referred for evaluation to ensure that the physician has the necessary information to diagnose or treat you. We may also share your PHI from time-to-time with another physician or health care provider who, at the request of your physician, becomes involved in your care by providing assistance with your health care diagnosis or treatment to your physician.
We may also share your PHI with people outside of our practice that may provide medical care for you such as home health agencies.
We may use and disclose your PHI to obtain payment for services. We may provide your PHI to others in order to bill or collect payment for services. There may be services for which we share information with your health plan to determine if the service will be paid for.
PHI may be shared with the following:
- Billing companies
- Insurance companies, health plans
- Government agencies in order to assist with qualification of benefits
- Collection agencies
EXAMPLE: You are seen at our practice for a procedure. We will need to provide a listing of services such as x-rays to your insurance company so that we can get paid for the procedure. We may at the times contact your health care plan to receive approval PRIOR to performing certain procedures to ensure the services will be paid for. This will require sharing of your PHI.
We may use or disclose, as-needed, your PHI in order to support the business activities of this practice (health care operations).
- Training students, other health care providers, or ancillary staff such as billing personnel to help them learn or improve their skills.
- Quality improvement processes which look at delivery of health care and for improvement I processes which will provide safer, more effective care for you.
- Use of information to assist in resolving problems or complaints within the practice.
In these circumstances, we may use your PHI without your permission:
- If required by law: The use or disclosure will be made in compliance with the law and will be limited to the relevant requirements of the law. For example, we may be required to report gunshot wounds or suspected abuse or neglect.
- Public health activities: The disclosure will be made for the purpose of controlling disease, injury or disability and only to public health authorities permitted by law to collect or receive information. We may also notify individuals who may have been exposed to a disease of may be at risk of contracting or spreading a disease or condition.
- Health oversight agencies: We may disclose protected health information to a health oversight agency for activities authorized by law, such as audits, investigations, and oversee the health care system, government benefit programs, other government regulatory programs and civil rights laws.
- Legal proceedings: To assist in any legal proceeding or in response to a court order, in certain conditions in response to a subpoena, or other lawful process.
- Police or other law enforcement purposes: The release of PHI will meet all applicable legal requirements for release.
- Coroners, funeral directors: We may disclose protected health information to a coroner or medical examiner for identification purposes, determining cause of death or for the coroner or medical examiner to perform other duties authorized by law.
- Medical research: We may disclose your PHI to researchers when their research has been approved by an institutional review board that has reviewed the research proposal and established protocols to ensure the privacy of your protected health information.
- Special government purposes: Information may be shared for national security purposes, or if you are a member of the military, to the military under limited circumstances.
- Correctional institutions: Information may be shared if you are an inmate or under custody of law which is necessary for your health or the health and safety of other individuals.
- Workers’ Compensation: Your protected health information may be disclosed by us as authorized to comply with workers’ comp. laws and other similar legally-stablished programs.
Other uses and disclosures of your health information.
Business Associates: Some services are provided through the use of contracted entities called “business associates”. We will always release only the minimum amount of PHI necessary so that the business associate can perform the identified services. We require the business associate(s) to appropriately safeguard your information. Examples of business associates include billing companies or transcription services.
Health Information Exchange: We may make your health information available electronically to other healthcare providers outside of our facility who are involved in your care.
Fundraising activities: We may provide you notice of treatment option or other health related services that may improve your overall health.
Appointment reminders: We may contact you as a reminder about upcoming appointments or treatments.
We may use or disclose your PHI in the following situations UNLESS you object.
- We may share your information with friends or family members, or other persons directly identified by you at the level they are involved in your care or payment of services. If you are not present or able to agree/object, the healthcare provider using professional judgement will determine if it is in your best interest to share the information. For example, we may discuss post procedure instructions with the person who drove you to the facility unless you tell us specifically not to share the information.
- We may use or disclose protected health information to notify or assist in notifying a family member, personal representative or any other person that is responsible for your care of your location, general condition or death.
- We may use or disclose your protected health information to an authorized public or private entity to assist in disaster relief efforts.
The following uses and disclosures of PHI require your written authorization:
- Disclosures of for any purposes which require the sale of your information
- Release of psychotherapy notes: Psychotherapy notes are notes by a mental health professional for the purpose of documenting a conversation during a private session. This session could be with an individual or with a group. These notes are kept separate from the rest of your medical records.
All other uses and disclosures not recorded in this Notice will require a written authorization from you or your personal representative.
Written authorization simply explains how you want your information used and disclosed. Your written authorization may be revoked at any time, in writing. Except to the extent that your doctor or this practice has used or released information based on the direction provided in the authorization, no further use or disclosure will occur.
Your Rights Regarding Electronic Health Information Exchange
Health-care providers and health plans may use and disclose your health information without your written authorization for purposes of treatment, payment and healthcare operations. Our healthcare providers are linked by an electronic medical record. When you go to an outside provider, we may be able to share and/or access your records through an electronic Health Information Exchange (HIE). Before there was an HIE, providers and health plans exchanged this information directly by hand delivery, mail, facsimile or email. This process was time consuming, expensive and not secure.
The electronic HIE changes this process. Technology allows a provider or health plan to submit a single request through an HIE to obtain electronic records for a specific patient from other HIE participants. The provider must have sufficient personal information about you to prove they have a treatment relationship with you before the HIE will allow access to your information.
To allow authorized individuals to access your electronic health information you do not have to do anything. By reading this notice and not opting out, your information will be available through the HIE.
Opting Out: If you do not wish to share information with providers through an HIE, you must opt out. Please understand your decision to restrict information through an HIE will limit your healthcare providers’ ability to provide the most effective care for you. By submitting a request for restrictions, you accept the risks associated with that decision. Your decision to restrict access to your electronic health information through the HIE does not impact other disclosures of your health information. Providers and health plans may continue to share your information directly through other means (such as by facsimile or secure email) without your specific written authorization. Opting out of the HIE will not prevent our providers from seeing your complete medical records.
Your Privacy Rights
You have certain rights related to your protected health information. All request to exercise your rights must be made in writing.
You have the right to see and obtain a copy of your protected health information.
This means you may inspect and obtain a copy of protected health information about you that is contained in a designated record set for as long as we maintain the protected health information. If requested we will provide you a copy of your records in an electronic format. There are some exceptions to records which may be copied and the request may be denied. We may charge you a reasonable cost based fee for a copy of the records.
You have the right to request restrictions of you protected health information.
You may request for this practice not to use or disclose any part of your protected health information for the purposes of treatment, payment, or healthcare operations. We are not required to agree with these requests. If we agree to a restriction request we will honor the request unless the information is needed to provide emergency treatment.
There is one exception, we must accept a restriction request to restrict disclosure of information to a health plan if you pay out of pocket in full for a service or product unless it is otherwise required by law.
You have the right to request for us to communicate in different ways or in different locations.
We will agree to reasonable request. We may also request alternative address or mother method of contact such as mailing information to a P.O. Box. We will not ask for an explanation from you about the request.
You may have the right to request an amendment of your health information.
You may request an amendment of your health information if you feel that the information is not correct along with an explanation of the reason for the request. In certain cases, we may deny your request for an amendment at which time you will have an opportunity to disagree.
You have the right to a list of people/organizations who have received your health information from us.
This right applied to disclosures for purposes other than treatment, payment or healthcare operations. You have the right to obtain a listing of these disclosures that occurred after April 14, 2003. You may request them for the previous six years or a shorter timeframe. If you request more than on list within a 12 month period you may be charged a reasonable fee.
Additional Privacy Rights
- You have the right to obtain a paper copy of this notice from us, upon request. We will provide you a copy of this Notice as soon as possible.
- You have a right to receive notifications of any breach of your protected health information.
If you think we have violated your rights or you have a complaint about our privacy practices you can contact-
You may also complain to the United States Secretary of Health and Human Services if you believe your privacy rights have been violate by our practice.
If you file a complaint we will not retaliate against you for filing a complaint.
This notice was published and becomes effective on March 27, 2018.