Department of Veterans Affairs

VHA INTERNAL PRIVACY ACT/HIPAA ENVELOPE

The Department of Veterans Affairs currently uses Privacy Act/HIPAA interoffice envelopes which are designed for only one use. This is a hugh waste of money and resources. If the recipient opens the sealed envelope without damaging it too much, & places a blank sticker over the original recipient's name, the envelope can usually be used one more time. Mary Gray & I have designed a new envelope which still incorporates all the privacy requirements, but we have added 35-40 more spaces so the envelope has the potential of being used over & over again. Since these envelopes are in house use only, we believe that they do not need to be permanently sealed & can be sealed in the same fashion as the regular Interoffice Envelopes. This is reinforced by the instructions that the envelope should only be opened by the recipient similiar to the violiation of opening USPS mail that is not addressed to the person opening the mail. If it is a requirement that the envelopes have a more permanent seal, perhaps a different type of sealing device can be used to meet the intent of the use of the envelope. For example, could the flaps of the envelope be sealed over & over again with a double sided tape that can be removed each time? The flaps would probably have to be made with a plastic type surface to allow reuse. We have also added a "Sent By" and "Dept" column in case the envelope cannot be deiivered as addressed. The eliminates the need of mail room personnel having to open the envelope to try to identify the sender. If someone other than the recipient has to open the envelope, this has the potential to violiate the Privacy Act and HIPAA regulations. In our facility, envelopes that cannot be delivered as addressed are forwarded to our Privacy Officer delays delivery. Time is of the essence for mail delivery in a hospital environment. We also created a smaller single use envelope for items which don't require the large, more expensive envelope. Samples available.

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Idea No. 16803