Health Information Management

Q&A: Are colleges sending students to our facility for rotations business associates?

HIM-HIPAA Insider, September 20, 2011

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Q: Should we obtain business associate agreements with colleges that send students to our hospital for clinical rotations? The Privacy Rule includes trainees as a member of the workforce, and other provisions pertain to students in training programs. However, I am not certain whether these provisions apply to all aspects of students’ exposure to PHI and want to request execution of business associate agreements with our affiliated clinical programs.

A:  An educational program is not considered a business associate because it does not provide a service on behalf of a covered entity. A business associate agreement is not appropriate, but many organizations execute written affiliation agreements with educational programs whose students they accept.
 
These agreements usually require clinical programs to provide students who have received HIPAA training and understand their obligation to protect PHI. Many organizations also require students to sign individual confidentiality agreements during orientation.
 
Editor’s note: Mary D. Brandt, MBA, RHIA, CHE, CHPS, vice president of HIM at Scott & White Healthcare in Temple, TX, answered this question in the September issue of Briefings on HIPAA.



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