The Role of HIPAA in Building a Grateful Patient Program

The Role of HIPAA in Building a Grateful Patient Program

September 23, 2013 by jga_admin


by Andy Canada


We have seen fundraising in healthcare grow in recent years. More organizations are growing their fundraising staffs and becoming more aggressive in acquiring new donors.

One potential prospect pool for most healthcare organizations are their patients and former patients. They have a first-hand experience with the organization and in many cases have built a connection to a specific staff member or unit of the hospital. Reaching out to these individuals and their families to contribute back to the organization makes sense in many situation. The key is to do it in an appropriate fashion and make sure you are always putting the prospective donor first.

A grateful patient program has to be built around putting the patient and their family first, but must also keep within the guidelines established under the HIPAA regulations. There are a few steps that every organization should take when either creating or sustaining a grateful patient program.

One important step is to build a strong working relationship with the Compliance Officer. The development operation needs to have a direct line of communication to the Compliance office and make sure that both groups are on the same page regarding the strategies for a grateful patient program.

Another suggestion that I would recommend is to go to the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy website section on HIPAA and also consider purchasing the AHP Research to Practice Guide: Fundraising Under HIPAA.

As you can imagine it is not overly exciting reading about HIPAA regulations but AHP has done an excellent job of sifting through the regulations and boiling down the key points that focus on fundraising. There are some critical steps that you must take to protect your organization and your patients and the guidebook helps define those areas.

HIPAA does not prevent a healthcare organization from fundraising but it does define the type of patient information that can be used and it also provides for greater patient awareness. Recent updates to the regulations have also come with increased penalties for not following the proper protocol on dealing with patient information.

So whether you have a well-established program or are just starting out it is important to keep current on the regulations. That is where you’re a solid relationship with your Compliance Office and having an clear understanding of the regulations will be critical to your efforts to successfully engage your patients.