Use and Disclosure of Protected Health Information in Fundraising

Statement of Policy

Washington University and its member organizations (collectively, “Washington University”) will protect the privacy and confidentiality of patients’ protected health information (PHI) in any paper, electronic or oral form and will comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and subsequent revisions to HIPAA privacy rules through the 2013 HITECH Act (The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act ) when conducting all development activity.

Scope of Policy

The scope of this Policy includes fundraising performed by WU.


1. Individual Gift Activity

Physicians may collaborate with the Office of Medical Alumni and Development (“Development”) by referring prospective donors or bringing patients and Development staff together.

Physician activities related to Development include:

• Providing prospect names and addresses to staff.
• Communicating with patients and inviting additional visits to hear more about research/patient care initiatives in the physician’s department.
• Sending a letter thanking a donor for a gift that has been received.
• Sending a letter inviting a donor in to see the project his/her gift has supported. Such a letter contains no solicitation. If the donor wishes to provide additional support, the physician turns the process over to Development, after informing the patient that he or she is going to do so.

Physicians and Development staff may discuss demographic patient information (name, address, contact information such as telephone number and email address, age, gender), dates of patient health care services, health insurance status, general department of service information, treating physician information and outcome information. No information about a patient’s nature of services, diagnosis, or treatment will be shared by the physician with the Development staff.

2. Special Patient Program

The Office of Medical Alumni and Development will continue to review patient lists that contain only demographic information, date of services, department of service and treating physician to identify individuals for fundraising. Development will not access any information regarding the patient’s diagnosis or treatment.

3. Referrals/Patient Appointments/Visiting Patients in Hospital

As part of healthcare operations, development officers can help physicians facilitate patient appointments or referrals, and may escort patients to appointments.

4. Patient Direct Mail Solicitations

The Office of Medical Alumni and Development will limit its use and disclosure of PHI for direct mail to patient demographic information that includes name, address and other contact information, age, gender, insurance status, dates of visit, general department and treating physician These mailings could include asking people on the entire mailing list to inform us if they would like to receive information about a specific program. Development may send targeted mailings to those people who have notified us of a specific department, disease, research, or center interest though past donations and through specifying such interest in mailings they may receive from Development.  Information such as nature of services, treatment, and diagnosis will not be used.

5. Opt Out

Mailings, printed materials, correspondence, and verbal communication will include specific “opt out” information about how the recipient can notify Development to discontinue future contact for fundraising purposes. That opt out language will be consistent across Development operations, and is attached (See Exhibit A).

6. Psychiatry

Development shall request that information it receives from Washington University School of Medicine databases exclude patients from the Department of Psychiatry. This is intended to ensure that these patients will not receive any general solicitation mailings, as it may be important for them to remain anonymous to Development.

7. Patient Information in Development Office

The Development Office maintains information on donors and prospective donors. Files include individual staff member’s electronic and hard copy files, a research library with paper copies of correspondence and other pertinent documentation, and a Washington University School of Medicine database with demographic information, gift history, and prospect tracking information.
Development will store only the demographic information about the patient allowed by the HIPAA regulations, including relationship information, gift history, and prospect tracking information in these files. Development will continue to capture correspondence, development strategy and activities, but will not keep any information about treatment, diagnoses, or patient care in the electronic or paper files of the office except when mentioned by the patient in written correspondence.
Creation Date: November 23, 2002
Effective Date: April 14, 2003
Last Revision Date: November 1, 2007; August 30, 2013