HIPAA Mailing Medical Records to Patients

HIPAA Breach Notification Letter Requirements


HIPAA rules for mailing medical records are non-negotiable, specific, and incredibly important for any organization that handles medical information pertaining to individuals. Having served companies and institutions in the healthcare field for many years, we at Spectra are experts in best practices and federal regulations related to HIPAA. Mailing medical records to patients is a very sensitive activity, and organizations need to engage with a mailing partner that not only fully understands the risks and requirements, but also holds HIPAA compliance certification as a demonstration of that understanding.

While HIPAA requirements are stringent, they do not need to hinder the ability of marketers and communications departments to reach individuals by mail. A highly experienced, security certified third party fulfillment partner like Spectra can process campaigns and achieve high response rates while keeping HIPAA compliance practices in place and auditing mailers to ensure that patients’ privacy is protected at all times.

HIPAA And the Mail For Sending Medical Records Effectively: What are the Rules?

The basic premise of data security under HIPAA mailing medical records to a patient is fairly simple: all protected health information, or PHI, must be kept out of view from unauthorized persons. When the USPS is utilized to communicate that information, the HIPAA rules for mailing medical records dictate that envelopes, pressure seal mailers, postcards, and other formats adequately hide all PHI until the designated recipient opens it. Examples of breaches of HIPAA rules include:

  • Printing account information, SS numbers, and other sensitive information on envelope exteriors
  • An envelope window that reveals PHI printed on the document inside the envelope
  • Postcards or flyers that mention medical diagnoses or treatments along with recipients’ personally identifiable information.
  • A HIPAA compliant mailing partner such as Spectra offers mailing options that avoid these and other data exposure issues, giving healthcare organizations confidence that their campaigns will be secure and respect the privacy of their patients.

Sending Medical Records by Mail

While many forms of communication are moving into the digital realm, direct mail remains the preferred method for conveying information protected under HIPAA. Mailing medical records to a patient is more secure than most digital alternatives, especially when the mailing is handled by a certified fulfillment partner and uses highly secure methods, which in many cases means pressure seal mailing.

HIPAA Rules to Remember While Sending Medical Records by Mail

Conducting a direct mail campaign in any field is a large, potentially expensive endeavor, and there are seemingly minor nuances that can either make a campaign a massive success or doom it to failure with close to zero response rate. Within the medical field, however, there are even more factors to take into account, and the stakes are much higher. HIPAA rules for mailing medical records take top priority in such a campaign, and only after that do factors like response rate and marketing come into play.

Under HIPAA, mailing medical records to patient addresses is a highly regulated activity. If your organization aims to send surveys, marketing messages, or other targeted mailers to individuals based on PHI, it is essential to use a mailing service that has a thorough understanding of what the rules are and how you can comply with them while giving your campaign the best possible chance for a high response rate.

Types of Communications You Can Send Via Mail

Most of the communications that healthcare organizations send to patients or members may be sent through the mail, provided that the mailing methods, envelopes, and sealing methods used are in compliance with HIPAA rules. It is important to note that HIPAA regulated communications must be sent via first class mail or certified mail, not standard mail.

How Can Spectra Help You Mail HIPAA Compliant Medical Records to Patients?

What’s the easiest way to communicate by mail with your patients while staying within the guidelines of applicable HIPAA regulations? A partnership with Spectra. Our teams stay updated on all HIPAA rules for mailing medical records, and we check every campaign for every client to make sure that no protected health information is exposed during the mailing process. With our deep level of familiarity with HIPAA, mailing medical records to patients and sending out marketing messages is both compliant and highly effective. Contact us today to speak with a member of our team about how we can help with your next communication effort.

Spectra’s Charleston Fulfillment Center

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