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Privacy Laws and Protected Health Information HIPAA By Lisa Bakewell M ASSAGE AND BODYWORK PROFESSIONALS live in a shadowy gray area when it comes to complying with the 1996 Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPA A). The act protects all "individually identifiable health information" held or transmitted by a covered entity (or its business associate) in any form or media—whether electronic, paper, or oral. The HIPA A Privacy Rule calls this information protected health information (PHI). And, because PHI may be stored on paper, transmitted electronically, or even conveyed in conversation, national privacy and security requirements come into play. Individually identifiable health information (including demographics) relates to the past, present, or future health (or condition) of your client; services you provide; payments for services (past, present, or future); and the identification of your clients. Many common identifiers include your client's name, address, birth date, and Social Security number. Beginning in 2003, privacy guidelines took effect that govern access to—and distribution of—a person's PHI. These guidelines are important to massage therapists and bodyworkers because, although they don't write prescriptions, they use products (and perform services) that may impact a client. Bodywork professionals may also ask clients about their medical histories, which also falls under HIPA A privacy laws. Ta k e 5 a n d t r y t h e A B M P F i v e - M i n u t e M u s c l e s a t w w w. a b m p . c o m / f i v e - m i n u t e - m u s c l e s . 73

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