Flowers and HIPAA | Guest Writer Kevin Joel Kelly

First the disclaimer: I am not involved directly with health care or HIPAA issues, or so I thought. I am a master floral designer, and I have worked as a professional florist now for more than forty years. Currently, I am the founder and executive director of the Lotus School of Flower Arranging, a fledgling nonprofit. I will be doing some contract projects for Jon Tomes, and he thought that I needed to attend one of his seminars to be better informed concerning HIPAA basics. Sandwiched with entertaining stories, dramatic statistics, and lots of information, Jon’s presentation held my attention, much to my surprise.

Sometime about early afternoon at Jon’s seminar, the lights went on for me. Part of the work of the Lotus School of Flower Arranging is to take flower arranging classes and workshops into facilities where people are dealing with many serious issues, including chronic or life threatening illnesses and mental and behavioral health issues. Part of the process is to create a safe environment in which people can share as honestly and openly as they choose. We know that we must guard their confidentiality and privacy, but Jon’s seminar caused me to think even more deeply about privacy and its relationship to safety and a more holistic approach to health care.

And as we are often warned now, private information in the wrong hands can destroy lives. But even beyond that aspect are deeper issues, such as the issues of dignity and self-determination. In the throes of illness, it is possible to lose one’s sense of dignity and privacy, as well as one’s sense of self-determination and control over one’s life.

Maintaining health information privacy is essential to a holistic approach to health care because it leaves the patient in control of who will see and use his or her personal information. It may even be step one in providing a more holistic approach to health care because it creates a safe container for the practitioner/patient relationship, affirming the patient’s rights and power of self-determination. Patients are safe to have discussions, express their feelings, and make decisions regarding their treatments because they have a reasonable expectation that their privacy will be protected. Such privacy underscores the dignity of the patient. Jon’s seminar reinforced the need for us to adopt policies regarding privacy for the Lotus School of Flower Arranging.

On February 26th, 2012, posted in: HIPAA Compliance Blog by Tags: , ,
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