What does HIPAA mean by “reasonable privacy safeguards” in oral communication?

What does HIPAA mean by “reasonable privacy safeguards” in oral communication?

For almost 10 years after HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) went into effect, architects, engineers and healthcare planners had little guidance on speech privacy.  HIPAA requires “reasonable safeguards” to protect private information, but there were no industry standards that defined what this meant. Professionals used their best judgment to determine what constituted appropriate privacy for information transmitted orally between doctors and nurses, nurses and patients, pharmacists and customers, but they had no assurance that this would be acceptable if challenged in litigation. In 2006, the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) Joint Subcommittee on Speech Privacy published the Interim Sound and Vibration Design Guidelines for Hospital and Healthcare Facilities (2006).  The guidelines were soon incorporated into the Green Guide for Health Care (GGHC) and then then into LEED for Healthcare by USGBC.  Finally, the 2010 revision of the Facilities Guidelines Institute (FGI) Guidelines for Design And Construction of Healthcare Facilities added the criteria for speech privacy.  The FGI Guidelines for Design And Construction of Healthcare Facilities provide an industry standard and strong basis for what is required to provide reasonable safeguards of private medical information. The FGI Guidelines give objective design criteria.  Speech privacy can be predicted during design or measured in place.  For more detail, see Sound & Vibration Design Guidelines for Health Care Facilities (January 10, 2010), which is the sole Reference Standard for the FGI Guidelines and LEED for Healthcare.  The 2014 FGI Guidelines will further improve the acoustic guidelines....
Drawing the Line on HIPAA Compliance

Drawing the Line on HIPAA Compliance

Have you ever wondered about that line on the floor at the Pharmacy or doctor’s office – the line you are supposed to stand behind as you wait? You may be aware that the line is there because of HIPAA. HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, is intended to protect personal medical information. It requires businesses, hospitals, and healthcare providers to take “Reasonable Safeguards” to protect personal information when it is exchanged orally. What does that mean to planners and designers? When you stand behind the line, it is more difficult for you to hear the conversation between the Pharmacist and the customer at the counter. If done properly, the distance between you and the counter, the direction people are facing, the floor, ceiling, and other room finishes have all been taken into account to determine where the line on the floor should be. Similar planning can ensure that your information is protected in doctor’s office, waiting rooms, exam rooms, and hospital admissions areas. For years it was left to planners and designers to use their best judgment, but now industry standards and guidelines are available to provide a design basis. Calculations can be done to predict speech privacy levels and show compliance with industry standards. Acoustic measurements can also be done in finished spaces to prove compliance afterwards. Make sure your designs comply with industry standards for speech privacy. Look for more information in future...