Corporate Compliance

HIPAA Q&A: Police department mailings

Compliance Monitor, December 28, 2011

Q. We are a medical provider for a local police department and mail out various postcards and medical information throughout the year. Many of our members fail to provide current mailing addresses, but the returned mail often includes an updated mailing label from the post office. Can we use this information without compromising any of the HIPAA regulations?

A. Yes. Forwarding addresses provided by the post office are public information that is not protected under HIPAA. You can use this information to update addresses in your patient database.

Editor’s note: Mary D. Brandt, MBA, RHIA, CHE, CHPS, vice president of health information management at Scott & White Healthcare in Temple, TX, answered this question. She is a nationally recognized expert on patient privacy, information security, and regulatory compliance, and her publications provided some of the basis for HIPAA’s privacy regulations. This question originally appeared on the HIPAA Update blog.

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