Drawing the Line on HIPAA Compliance

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Have you ever wondered about that line on the floor at the Pharmacy or doctor's office - the line you are supposed to stand behind as you wait? You may be aware that the line is there because of HIPAA. HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, is intended to protect personal medical information. It requires businesses, hospitals, and healthcare providers to take "Reasonable Safeguards" to protect personal information when it is exchanged orally. What does that mean to planners and designers?

When you stand behind the line, it is more difficult for you to hear the conversation between the Pharmacist and the customer at the counter. If done properly, the distance between you and the counter, the direction people are facing, the floor, ceiling, and other room finishes have all been taken into account to determine where the line on the floor should be. Similar planning can ensure that your information is protected in doctor's office, waiting rooms, exam rooms, and hospital admissions areas.

For years it was left to planners and designers to use their best judgment, but now industry standards and guidelines are available to provide a design basis. Calculations can be done to predict speech privacy levels and show compliance with industry standards. Acoustic measurements can also be done in finished spaces to prove compliance afterwards.

Make sure your designs comply with industry standards for speech privacy. Look for more information in future posts.