We respect our legal obligation to keep health information that might identify details of your private information. We are obligated by law to provide you with notice of our privacy practices. This notice describes how we protect your health information and what rights you have regarding it.
TREATMENT, PAYMENT, AND HEALTH CARE OPERATIONS
The most common reasons we would use or disclose your health information is for treatment, payment, or business operations. We routinely use and disclose your medical information within the office on a daily basis. We do not need specific permission to use or disclose your medical information in the following matters, although you have the right to request that we do not.
Examples of how we might use or disclose health information for treatment purposes might include:
Setting up or changing appointments including, leaving messages with those at your home or office who can answer the phone, to include voice mails, or emails; calling your name out in a reception room environment; prescribing medications as well as relaying this information to suppliers by phone, fax, or other electronic means including initial prescriptions and requests from suppliers for refills; notifying you that your prescriptions are ready. Referring you to another doctor for care not provided in this office; obtaining copies of health information from doctors you have seen before us; discussing your care with you directly or with family or friends you have authorized or inferred or leaving messages with those at your home who may answer the phone, to include voice mails or emails reminding you it is time for continued care.
Examples of how we might use or disclose health information for payment purposes might include:
Asking you about your vision or medical insurance plans or other sources of payment; preparing and sending bills to your insurance provider or to you; providing any information required by third party payors in order to insure payment for services rendered to you; collecting unpaid balances either ourselves or through a collection agency, attorney, or district attorney’s office.
Examples of how we might use or disclose health information for business operations might include:
Financial or billing audits; internal quality assurance programs; participation in managed care plans; defense of legal matters; business planning; certain research functions; informing you of products or services offered by our office; compliance with local, state, or federal government agencies request for information; oversight activities such as licensing of our doctors; Medicare or Medicaid audits.
USES AND DISCLOSURES FOR OTHER REASONS NOT NEEDING PERMISSION
In some other limited situations, the law allows us to use or disclose your medical information without your specific permission. Most of these situations will never apply to you but they could.
- When a state or federal law mandates that certain health information be reported for a specific
- For public health reasons, such as reporting of a contagious disease, investigations, or surveillance, and notices to and from the federal Food and Drug Administration regarding drugs or medical devices
- Disclosures to government or law authorities about victims of suspected abuse, neglect, domestic violence, or when someone is or suspected to be a victim of a crime
- Disclosures for judicial and administrative proceedings, such as in response to subpoenas or orders of courts or administrative hearings
- Disclosures to a medical examiner to identify a deceased person or determine cause of death or to funeral directors to aid in burial
- Disclosures to organizations that handle organ or tissue donations
- Uses or disclosures to prevent a serious threat to health or safety of an individual or individuals
- Uses or disclosures to aid military purposes or lawful national intelligence activities
- Disclosures of de-identified information
- Disclosures related to a workman’s compensation claim
- Disclosures of a “limited data set” for research, public health, or health care operations
- Incidental disclosures that are an unavoidable by-product of permitted uses and disclosures
- Disclosure of information needed in completing form from a school related vision screening, information to the Department of Public Safety, information related to certification for occupational or recreational licenses such as pilots license
- Disclosures to business associates who perform health care operations for Vision Care Center and who commit to respect the privacy of your information
- Unless you object, disclosure of relevant information to family members or friends who are helping you with care or by their allowed presence cause us to assume you approve their exposure to relevant information about your health
USES OR DISCLOSURES TO PATIENT REPRESENTATIVES
It is the policy of Vision Care Center for our staff to take phone calls from individuals on a patient’s behalf requesting information about making or changing an appointment. During telephones or in person contact, every effort will be made to limit the encounter to only the specifics needed to complete the transaction required. No information about the patient’s vision or health status may be disclosed without proper patient consent.
Vision Care Center staff and doctors will also infer that if you allow another person in an examination or treatment room with you while testing is performed, or discussions held about your vision or health care that consent to the presence of that individual.
YOUR RIGHTS REGARDING YOUR HEALTH INFORMATION
The laws give you many rights regarding your personal health information.
You may ask us to restrict our uses and disclosures for purposes of treatment (except in emergency care), payment, or business operations. This request must be made in writing to the Privacy Officer named at the beginning of this Notice. We do not have to agree to your request, but if we agree, we must honor the restrictions you ask for.
You may ask us to communicate with you in a confidential manner. Examples might be contacting you by telephone at your home or using some special email address. We will accommodate these requests if they are reasonable and if you agree to pay additional cost, if any, incurred in accommodating your request. Requests for special communication request must be made to the Privacy Officer named at the beginning of this Notice.
You may ask to review or request copies of your health information. There are a very few limited situations in which we may refuse your access to your health information. For the most part we are happy to provide you with the opportunity to either review or obtain a copy of your medical information. All requests for review or copy of medical information must be made in writing to the Privacy Officer named at the beginning of this Notice. While we usually respond to these requests in just a day or so, by law we have fifteen (15) days to respond to your request. We may request an additional thirty (30) day extension in certain situations.
You may ask us to amend or change your health care information if you think it is incorrect or incomplete. If we agree, we will make the amendment to your medical record within thirty (30) days of your written request for change sent to the Privacy Officer named at the beginning of this Notice. We will then send the corrected information to you or any other individual you feel needs a copy of the corrected information. If we do not agree, you will be notified in writing of our decision. You may then write a statement of your position and we will include it in your medical record along with any rebuttal statement we may wish to include.
You may obtain additional copies of this Notice of Privacy Practices from our business office or online at our website address shown at the beginning of this Notice.
CHANGING OUR NOTICE OF PRIVACY PRACTICES
By law, we must abide by the terms of this Notice of Privacy Practices until we choose to change the Notice. We reserve the right to change this Notice at any time. If we change this Notice, the new privacy practices will apply to your existing health information as well as any additional information generated in the future. If we change this Notice, we will post a new Notice in our office.
If you think that anyone at Vision Care Center has not requested the privacy of your health information, you are free to complain to the Privacy Officer named at the beginning of this Notice. We are more than happy to try to resolve any concerns you may have in writing. If we cannot resolve your concern at that level, you may also file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Civil Rights or the Texas Attorney General’s Office. We will not retaliate against you if you make such a complaint.
“Personal Information” refers to any information that directly identifies a user as an individual, such as one’s phone number or email address. Our site collects this information when an individual voluntarily submits a contact form to request an appointment or to request additional information.
Only authorized personnel are able to access the personal data you disclose on our website. The personal information gathered through our website is not shared with entities outside ofVision Care Center, except where required by law.
We may use the information a visitor voluntarily submits to follow-up with that individual about service info they requested. We may attempt to contact the user via phone call, email and/or SMS.
The Vision Care Center website also collects certain “Non-Personal” Information, including IP addresses, to help us monitor and improve the effectiveness of our website. IP addresses do not include personal information, and we may share this information with third-party organizations to help us gain a better understanding of how we can improve our website.
Our website may include links to third-party websites that are not associated with Vision Care Center. We are not responsible for the security or privacy settings of these third-party sites. Upon leaving the Vision Care Center website, our Privacy Settings no longer apply to the use and collection of your personal and non-personal data. We advise you to familiarize yourself with privacy settings of other websites before disclosing personal information.
The Vision Care Center website may place a small text file called a “cookie” in the browser files of your computer. Our display advertising partners, Perfect Audience and Facebook, then enable us to present you with retargeting advertising on other sites based on your previous interaction with the Vision Care Center website. The methods our advertising partners utilize do not collect personal information. If you prefer websites not store cookies on your computer, you’re welcome to update your settings within your web browser preferences.