Health Information Management

Are assisted living facilities (ALFs) considered "providers" under the privacy rule?

HIM-HIPAA Insider, August 16, 2004

Q: Are assisted living facilities (ALFs) considered "providers" under the privacy rule? When patients move from acute care hospitals to such facilities, can the facilities share medical information such as discharge summaries without patient authorization?

A: Assisted living facilities that provide medical care for individuals and bill Medicare or other health plans are covered entities. Under HIPAA, healthcare providers may share PHI with other providers-regardless of whether they are covered entities-without consent or authorization. In this case, for continuity of care, the hospital may share a patient's PHI with the facility without a specific written authorization from the patient.

This question was answered by Kate Borten, CISSP, CISM, president and founder of The Marblehead Group, Inc., in Marblehead, MA, a national security and privacy consulting firm focusing on the healthcare industry. This is not legal advice. Consult with your facility's legal counsel for legal matters.

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