For anyone in the health care field, following HIPAA is a way of life. For public relations pros, we’re always on the lookout for patients who haven’t signed HIPAA waivers when we have media onsite at our facilities (and here are a few other things PR practitioners need to be on the lookout for with HIPAA), but did you know that you need to follow HIPAA guidelines even if you’re not at one of your health care facilities?
For example, if your organization has a tent at a health care or farmers market and you have providers giving free health screenings such as a blood pressure test, you should follow the same HIPAA guidelines as you would if it were a patient receiving open heart surgery at your hospital. This means you should get a signed consent form before posting a photo encouraging people to come to your booth, or if a reporter stops by to cover the event, you’ll need to get a signed consent from any patients receiving care.
While strictly adhering to HIPAA rules can seem like just another layer of complexity added to our jobs, just think about the crises we would create if we didn’t follow the law. As I always remind myself, “Better safe than sorry.”