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How Do Home Health Care Agencies Protect Patient Privacy?

New York home health care agencies provide essential services that allow elderly and disabled patients to remain in their own homes. To achieve a high level of care, home health aides and care coordinators need access to their patients’ medical records. Read on to find out how agencies in Brooklyn, Manhattan, the Bronx, and Queens protect people’s sensitive data.

How Do New York Home Health Care Agencies Protect Patient Privacy?

The HIPAA Privacy Rule protects sensitive medical data. All your healthcare providers have to follow this framework, so you can be sure that any information you share with your agency is confidential. At Parent Care, we can’t disclose information about your health and treatments to third parties unless you give us permission, in an emergency, or when it is required by law.

When you’re incapacitated due to an illness or injury, only the minimum amount of information can be disclosed. This means that providers might speak to your loved ones or other healthcare professionals about your current injury or illness, but not about other, unrelated medical details. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in hefty monetary penalties or even imprisonment.

What Happens If There Is a Data Breach in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, or Queens? 

Nowadays, most information is stored online. This makes it easier to access, but it also increases the risk of a security issue. Healthcare agencies use advanced encryption techniques and password protection to prevent data breaches. If there is a problem, agencies have to disclose this to the affected patients. This regulation keeps healthcare providers accountable and ensures that you’re never kept in the dark about issues related to data protection.

Data Protection and Your Medical Record 

Your medical record is confidential, and it can only be accessed by you, your medical team, and your health care proxies. It contains your age, social security number, name, and address as well as information about your previous appointments and examinations. It is a record of your test results, the treatments you’ve been given, and the medicine you’ve been prescribed. Sometimes, information about your family history is also included.

You and your health care proxies can access your records, and you can share them with friends or family members. You can let your doctor know if you don’t want them to disclose certain information to other medical professionals and companies. They have to respect your wishes unless it’s unsafe or against the law to do so.

Accessing Your Health Information 

Your medical record is owned by the person who treated you, and they have to keep the original document for at least six years. You are allowed to see a copy at any time. Reading through the information provided by your doctors can help you to fully understand your condition and test results. This makes it easier for you to manage your health issues.

To access the records, reach out to your primary physician or agency directly. You might have to fill out a form. Once you’ve made your request, doctors have to send the records to you within ten days. Certain information related to HIV or substance abuse is more difficult to obtain. Make sure to fill out the entire form if you would like to access it.

Finding Out Who Has Seen the Information 

Your health information is shared by healthcare professionals to provide you with the best quality care. Sometimes, it is passed on to third parties for a specific reason. Government agencies and healthcare facilities can access some aspects of patients’ medical records for reporting purposes, to help doctors improve the level of care, and to keep nursing homes and other institutions clean and safe.

You have a right to know when your information has been shared. During your first visit to a new healthcare provider, you typically receive a notice that explains how your confidential information will be used. If you lose this or have concerns about it, you can request a new copy at any time, or you can speak to your healthcare provider directly.

Keeping the Information Private 

Let your health insurance company and medical professionals know if there is information you’d like to keep private from certain groups and companies. If you go to a clinic with several providers, you can ask your doctor not to share your information with other healthcare professionals at the same institution. You can also ask your doctors not to share information about medication with your health insurance company, as long as you pay for it yourself.

If you’re worried about people gaining access to your details at your home in Brooklyn, Manhattan, the Bronx, or Queens, you can ask your home health care agencies to contact you at a different place or in a different way. Doctors have to respect your right to privacy unless they believe that keeping your information from third parties would put your health at risk.

Sharing Information with Family and Friends

You control what information your family and friends have access to. Doctors are allowed to disclose details about your treatment in front of your loved ones if you’re present and don’t object. However, they can’t mention other health conditions that aren’t related to the medical issue currently being treated. They won’t disclose any information if you’ve specifically told them not to speak to your family or friends about your situation.

You can share your electronic health record with your loved ones. However, it’s important to note that security breaches are more likely if more people have a copy of your personal information. Be careful about where you send your details. Don’t give apps permission to access your medical records, unless a physician has told you that it is safe.

Do Home Health Aides Have Access to Medical Records?

Your New York home health aide isn’t a nurse or doctor. They can help you take your medication, but they can’t prescribe or administer treatment. That’s why they might not have access to your full medical records.

Despite this, they require some information about your condition. They need to know your age, details about your medical issues, and what medications you’re taking. If they are preparing your meals, they also need to know about allergies and intolerances. Like other medical professionals, home health aides don’t share private information with third parties unless you give them permission or there is an emergency.

What If the Patient Has Dementia? 

HIPAA can be challenging for patients who are no longer able to give consent and communicate effectively. Typically, a family member acts as the person’s health care proxy. The proxy can access medical records and make important decisions. Their job is to select the kind of care the patient might have chosen for themselves.

If you believe that you or your elderly loved one might develop dementia in the future, select a proxy now. Having one in place doesn’t mean that the patient has given up the power to make their own decisions. The proxy only starts making medical decisions once the patient is no longer able to. If they are still in reasonably good condition, they retain the right to decide who can access their medical records and what kind of treatment they receive.

New York home health care agencies need to access patients’ medical data to provide a high level of care. There are strict regulations that determine how and when information can be shared. You have a lot of control over your medical records, and you can access them at any time. Reach out to us at Parent Care in Brooklyn, Manhattan, the Bronx, or Queens to find out more about our data protection policies. 

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