Communication is very important in health. As much as a patient have to keep in touch with his or her physician or a physician have to report certain results or remind the patient of appointments that must be kept, this communication must be done in most appropriate way and through an agreed channel. Poor communication between patients and Covered Entities (CE) could be dangerous to the patient. In the same vein communicating via channels that exposes the patient’s Protected Health Information (PHI) to the public may likely endanger the patient’s health psychologically, socially, emotionally and physically. It is against this backdrop that the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) make provision for patients to determine their channels of communication.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in its Privacy and Security rules ensures that a health care provider does not ignore a patient’s demand to have a confidential communication with the health care provider. This means that a Covered Entity (CE) must accommodate reasonable any requests by a patient to receive communications from the CE by the means or at the locations they decide. This is also a way of protecting the CE from any threat that may arise from communicating via the channel the patient chose. If a patient’s Protected Health Information (PHI) gets out in the cause of communicating with a patient through the channel the patient chose or meeting with the patient at the location he or she chose, the CE will not be held responsible for the information that was exposed to the public since it was the patient’s choice of location and channel of communication.
A Patient may request that a CE leaves appointment reminders on his or her work voicemail instead of his or home phone voice mail. If a CE complies with this request and a third party accesses the information, the CE will not be responsible for disclosing any PHI to another individual.