Why is a HIPAA Release Form necessary? Why are patients required to sign it before providers can share their information with authorized individuals or entities?
Let’s take a step back and discuss the role HIPAA plays in dentistry, and other healthcare fields. HIPAA, the abbreviation for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, was created in 1996 to regulate proper storage and transmission of a patient’s medical information.
HIPAA Privacy rules came about due to a void in the healthcare system regarding privacy of patient health care information, and in giving patients the right to access their own medical records. In April of 2001, the HIPAA Privacy Rule came into effect, declaring that entities cannot disclose an individual’s private medical records without consent from that individual, or their representative/guardian. This is where HIPAA Release forms come into play.
The release form contains pertinent information, including who the health records will be sent to, exactly which health information will be shared, and within what timeframe. A patient’s signature on the release form authorizes the release of their information as specified in the document. Regulations on when a release form is required can be found here.
There are certain exceptions in which the minimum necessary health information is allowed to be shared with authorized recipients for cases in which it needs to be disclosed. In these scenarios, a HIPAA release form is not required; however, certain guidelines must be adhered to.
What Does the HIPAA Release Form Contain?
To ensure that your HIPAA Release Form complies with regulations, you’ll want to be certain to include the minimum requirements, as listed below:
- Details about what information will be disclosed, to whom, and for what purpose
- When the authorization to release information will expire
- The appropriate signature, from the patient, patient’s guardian or representative (with all pertinent information), along with the date of signature.
- Detailed statements clarifying all information regarding the patient’s right to revoke the authorization.
- Information that makes the patient aware of their rights if they choose not to sign the release form.
- Transparency about information disclosure under HIPAA terms.
Healthcare practitioners found violating HIPAA regulations may face substantial consequences, such as a fine or criminal penalties. Saving and storing patient files in accordance with HIPAA guidelines is critical, in addition to becoming familiar with HIPAA regulations.
How can mConsent Keep your Office HIPAA Compliant?
mConsent software is 100% HIPAA compliant. Our software provides digital forms for dental practices, including HIPAA medical release forms. All forms are integrated directly into electronic patient record systems, including Open Dental, Eaglesoft, and Dentrix. Switching to digital technology will help keep your practice HIPAA compliant, and improve efficiency, productivity, and patient satisfaction.
Why not save your staff from the hassles of searching for lost files, deciphering illegible handwriting, and manual data entry errors. Simplicity of use, reliability, and economical feasibility are some of the few reasons dentists choose mConsent for digital management and storage of their patient forms and data. Learn more today.