I thought I’d tell the group the opinion I formed regarding this issue in the event it may help others.  I thank everyone for their input.

 

I decided that the opportunity to agree or object did not apply in this area because that is reserved for family and friends involved in the patient’s care.  Just because you referred someone to your doctor doesn’t make you involved in the person’s care.  Then, I got to thinking that this referral program could be considered a marketing program on the part of the doctor in an effort to get more referrals.  Basically, it is a disclosure that doesn’t fit into any of the exceptions I know of, therefore….

 

This disclosure simply isn’t allowed without an authorization.

 

Once I came to that realization, I knew the NPP was completely out of the question.  The NPP is designed to inform a patient about allowed disclosures, not take the place of an authorization.  In some cases, putting the opportunity to agree or object in a NPP is appropriate if there is a specific mechanism to allow the agreement or objection to be noted above, beyond and separate from the receipt of NPP acknowledgement.

 

So, all this confirmed my opinion all along…yes, take the name off the card.  That is the ONLY option, other than dropping the program.  It’s the simplest thing to do.  De-identify.  I never saw this as a privacy mantra before, but I certainly do now.

 

There may need to be some additional steps to keep people from deducing the identity of the referral.  (One can refer a friend today and get a thank you note tomorrow, or a thank you note once a month.)

 

I’m thinking this is the stage where someone says…is all this really necessary?   I say yes.  News travels fast whether it is good or bad and seeing a doctor is always news.

 

These are just my personal opinions and I am not a lawyer, so take it all with a grain of salt or aspirin as the case may be!

 

 

Catherine Lohmeier

Implementations Project Lead

OD Professional Team

888.621.5751 x 15

402.423.6509 x 15

 

 

 

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