In a new memo, the U.S. Office for Civil Rights (OCR) says that healthcare providers may contact patients who have recovered from COVID-19 to inform them about how they can donate their blood and plasma containing antibodies to help other patients with COVID-19. OCR says this is a permissible disclosure under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Privacy Rule.
The memo explains that HIPAA permits covered health care providers to identify and contact patients who have recovered from COVID-19 for population-based activities relating to improving health, case management, or care coordination. However, without patients’ authorization, the providers cannot receive any payment from or on behalf of a blood and plasma donation center in exchange for such communications with recovered patients.
In a statement, OCR Director Roger Severino said: “We’re making sure misconceptions about HIPAA do not get in the way of a promising COVID-19 response. This guidance explains how health care providers can connect COVID-19 survivors with blood and plasma donation opportunities and further public health consistent with patient privacy.”