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HIPAA and Privacy

Read Our Privacy Statement

Understanding HIPAA

At Mercy Health, your privacy and confidentiality are taken very seriously. We invite you to learn more about the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and to discover how it affects you.

What is HIPAA?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) was designed to improve the portability and continuity of health care coverage in the group and individual insurance markets, and to improve protections against fraud and abuse within the industry.

Significant provisions of the Act are considered "Administrative Simplification" regulations that set standards for the privacy of protected individual health information, the electronic transmissions of health information and the security of this information. HIPAA will require changes in how health care information is handled, transferred and stored within the institution. It will require ongoing review and modification of systems, policies, procedures and most importantly, behavior.

What does it mean for you?

For patients, the enactment of HIPAA is intended to provide more information with which to make informed choices when seeking health care, and a better understanding of how their personal health information may be used. HIPAA gives patients the right to examine and request copies of their own health records, request corrections and to find out if and how their personal health information has been used for purposes other than treatment.

What does HIPAA mean for us?

Hospital compliance with HIPAA is NOT optional. Penalties for failing to comply with regulatory requirements or for the wrongful disclosure of protected health information can be severe, with fines and prison sentences resulting from the most serious violations.

It is also hoped that compliance with HIPAA guidelines will provide health care institutions with improved administrative efficiencies, reduced paperwork by promotion of electronic standards, reduced costs in the long run and more assurance that the confidentiality, availability and integrity of health care information is safeguarded.

What are we doing about HIPAA?

At Mercy Health, the privacy and confidentiality of our patients' personal health information is taken very seriously. Policies and procedures are already in place to help assure the privacy of those who seek care at our institution. The HIPAA guidelines will assist us in fine tuning our privacy and confidentiality policies to better serve our patients. As a Mercy Health facility, Mercy Health Saint Mary's is involved in the overall corporate efforts designed to address and reach compliance with the HIPAA regulations. Current efforts to address HIPAA are focused on disseminating the information and tools to assist the various departments in the hospital in their efforts to work toward full compliance.

To assist in coordinating activities related to reaching full compliance with the HIPAA guidelines, Mercy Health has recently appointed an Organizational Integrity/HIPAA Manager, who serves as the hospital's HIPAA site coordinator. In addition, the hospital has formed the Mercy Health Saint Mary's HIPAA Implementation Team. The HIPAA Implementation Team will work with senior management to see that all aspects of the HIPAA guidelines are carried out at our hospital.

Where can you learn more about HIPAA?

For more information about HIPAA and its impact on you and your personal health information, please feel free to contact the Organizational Integrity/HIPAA Manager at 616-685-6164, or check out the following websites:

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services