The NPP serves as a communication tool between healthcare providers, health insurers, healthcare clearinghouses, and patients, as it lays out in comprehensive detail how an individual’s protected health information (PHI) will be collected, used, disclosed, and safeguarded within the confines of the law. The NPP informs patients about their privacy rights, including their right to access their medical records, request corrections to their health information, and control the sharing of their PHI for specific purposes such as treatment, payment, or healthcare operations. It also delineates the provider’s legal obligations and responsibilities under HIPAA, emphasizing the commitment to maintaining the confidentiality and security of patients’ sensitive health data. The NPP serves as a tool that provides patients with knowledge about their privacy rights and enabling them to make informed decisions regarding their healthcare and the use of their PHI.
HIPAA section §164.520 stipulates what must be included in the NPAA, with the requirements depending on the covered entity’s activity, and must include the following:
- The Notice of Privacy Practices must include a dedicated section stating that any other uses and disclosures of health information requires the individual’s explicit authorization, including the individual’s prerogative to revoke said authorization at any given time.
- The Notice of Privacy Practices must provide details on how the covered entity may utilize and reveal health information for purposes such as treatment, payment, and healthcare operations, with illustrative examples provided for each category of use or disclosure.
- The Notice of Privacy Practices must include a comprehensive list of the permissible uses and disclosures that the covered entity is authorized to undertake, which may be subject to specific constraints like the “minimum necessary standard” or the individual’s decision not to opt out.
In accordance with the Notice of Privacy Practices requirements, individuals are entitled to a set of essential rights concerning their PHI. These rights encompass the ability to request access to and obtain copies of their health information, allowing them insight into their medical records. Furthermore, individuals have the prerogative to request amendments to their health information should they identify any omissions or inaccuracies, ensuring the accuracy and completeness of their medical records. Additionally, individuals can exercise their right to request an accounting of disclosures, providing them with a record of who has accessed or received their PHI.The Notice of Privacy Practices must provide clear instructions on how individuals can exercise these rights, elucidating the process for requesting access, copies, amendments, or accounting of disclosures. The Notice of Privacy Practices should outline how individuals can request restrictions on the uses and disclosures of their health information or specify alternate means of communication to ensure their privacy preferences are respected. Individuals should also be made aware that they will be promptly notified in the event of any compromise to the security or privacy of their health information. The Notice of Privacy Practices must comprehensively explain individuals’ rights to lodge complaints should they believe that their privacy rights have been violated, their health information has been inappropriately accessed, used, or disclosed, or if they have concerns about the privacy practices of the covered entity. This includes providing contact information for the appropriate entity or authority where individuals can lodge such complaints, empowering them to take action if their privacy concerns are not adequately addressed.