Northeast Georgia Health System acknowledges and respects any individual’s right to privacy. We take your concerns related to privacy and security seriously. We therefore want you to know how we may collect, use, share, and protect your information through our website.
This privacy statement applies to all NGHS-owned websites.
Notice of Privacy Practices
Notice of Privacy Practices, Effective Date: April 12, 2023 — Last Updated: August 1, 2023
Our Notice of Privacy Practices describes how information about you my be used and disclosed, and how you can access it.
How we my use and disclose information about you:
The following describes different ways that we use and disclose medical information. Not every use or disclosure in a category will be listed. However, all of the ways we are permitted to use and disclose information will fall within one of the following
For Treatment: We may use medical information about you for the purpose of providing medical treatment or services to doctors, nurses, technicians, medical students, volunteers, or other personnel involved in your care at the System. We may also disclose your medical information to people outside of the System who may be involved in your care such as friends or family members, if you have indicated that you would like these people to be informed of you care, or employees or medical staff members of any hospital or nursing facility if you are transferred or admitted to the facility for care.
For Payment: We may disclose medical information about you so that the treatment and services at the System may be billed by the System and payment collected from you, an insurance company or a third party. We may also disclose your medical information to another health care provider for payment of services you may have received at another medical facility. However, you may request that we not disclose your medical information to any persons or entities responsible for paying any portion of the charges you incur as a patient of the System provided that you pay all charges in full at the time of the request.
For Health Care Operations: We and our business associates may use and disclose medical information about you for health operations. These disclosures are necessary to run the System and ensure that all patients receive quality care. This includes disclosure of your medical information to doctors, nurses, medical students, and other personnel at the System for review and learning purposes. We may also disclose your information to researchers collecting medical information to study health care and health care delivery—we will remove information that personally identifies you before providing researchers with your information. Disclosures may also include other providers for use in their healthcare operations.
Health-Related Benefits and Services: You will not receive any marketing or advertising communications from us unless you indicate in your signed (or acknowledged) Notice of Privacy Practices that you wish to receive such communications. If you indicate that you would like to receive such communications, we may use or disclose your medical information to inform you of benefits or services that may interest you. If at any time you decide that you no longer wish to receive such communications, you may elect not to receive further marketing or advertising communications by contacting the number provided or by notifying the System’s Privacy Office in writing.
Sale of Health Information: We will not sell your health information unless you have authorized us to do so in your signed Notice of Privacy Practices.
Fundraising Activities: We may use your medical information to contact you about our efforts to raise money. You may opt out by providing your written request to the System’s Privacy Office or by informing the individual who contacts you of your desire to opt out of fundraising communications. Each time we contact you regarding fundraising efforts, we must ask you if you wish to opt out of all future fundraising communications.
Hospital Directory: We may include limited information about you in the hospital directory while you are a patient at the System. If you do not want anyone to know this information or to limit the amount of information that is disclosed and to whom, you may request limitations at the time of registration or during your stay.
Special Situations: In the following special situations we may release your medical information: organ and tissue donation, active duty military personnel and veterans, workers compensation, public health activities, health oversight activities, lawsuits and disputes, law enforcement, coroners and medical examiners, national security and intelligence activities, protective services for the President and others, inmates, and research, public health threat and safety of others, disaster relief efforts.
Psychotherapy Notes: Psychotherapy notes will not be disclosed outside of the System except as authorized by you in writing, pursuant to court, or as required by law. Notes will only be disclosed to personnel at the System who wrote the notes (except for training purposes and to defend against a legal action brought against the entity) unless you properly authorized such disclosure in writing.
Your rights regarding your medical information
Our obligation to you: (1) To make sure that medical information that identifies you is kept private; (2) To notify you regarding our legal duties, your legal rights, and our privacy practices at the System; (3) To abide by these terms of notice. You have the following rights regarding medical information we maintain about you:
Right to Inspect and Copy: You have a right to inspect and receive a copy of your medical record. If your request is denied you may request that the denial be reviewed, and that decision will be final. You may be charged a fee for the costs associated with copying, mailing, or other supplies associated with the request. If all or any portion of your health information is in an electronic format, you may request an electronic copy.
Right to Amend: If you feel that the medical information about you in your record is incorrect or incomplete, you may ask us to amend it. To request an amendment, your request must be made in writing and submitted to the System’s Health Information Management department. If your request is denied, you may submit in writing a statement of disagreement and ask that it be included in your medical record.
Right to an Accounting of Disclosures: You have a right to request a list of certain disclosures that we have made regarding your medical information. To request this you must submit your request in writing to the System’s Privacy Office.
Right to Request Restrictions: You have a right to request a restriction or limitation on the medical information we use or disclose about you, except where disclosure of the information is required by law. To request restrictions, you must make your request in writing to the System’s Privacy Office. We are not required to agree to your request. If we do agree, we will comply with your request except where the information is needed to provide you with emergency treatment.
Right to Request Confidential Communications: You have a right to request that we communicate with you about medical matters in a certain way and at a certain location. To request confidential communications, make your request at the time of registration or during your visit.
Right to this Notice: You have a right to a paper copy and may request it at the time of service or by contacting the System’s Privacy Office.
Changes to this Notice: We reserve the right to change this notice. We will post a copy of the current notice. The notice will contain the effective date in the top right corner. If the notice changes, a copy will be available to you upon request.
Investigations of breach: If we determine that the disclosure of your medical information constitutes a breach of the federal privacy or security regulations governing unsecured protected health information, we will (1) Provide a notice of the breach (2) Advise you of what we plan to do to mitigate the damage (if any) caused by the breach and (3) Advise on steps you should take to protect yourself from potential harm from the breach.
Other uses of this information: Other uses and disclosure of medical information not covered by this notice may be made in accordance with your written permission or as required by law. If you provide us with permission to use or disclose your medical information, you may revoke that permission at any time. To revoke your permission, you must provide your request in writing to the System’s Privacy Office.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: If you would like more information, contact the System’s Privacy Office at 1-844-917-1115.
COMPLAINTS: If you believe your privacy rights have been violated, you may file a complaint with the System or with the Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. To file a complaint with the System, contact the System’s Privacy Office by mail at 743 Spring Street, Gainesville, Georgia 30501, or call 1-844-917-1115. You will not be penalized for filing a complaint.
Online Privacy and Tracking
General Information we collect & how it is used
Personal Identifying Information
Visitors can browse all NGHS websites without providing any personal identifiable information. Certain information may not be personally identifiable when standing alone (e.g., your age), but may become so when combined with other information (e.g., your age and name). Whether you provide this information is your choice; however, in many instances this type of information is required to participate in a particular activity, realize a benefit we may offer, or receive additional information you may request.
Certain pages contain forms that give visitors the option of providing us with contact information including name, physical address, phone, and email address if you choose to contact us. Providing this information is voluntary. The information you submit is shared internally with NGHS employees who need this information to help respond to your request or improve NGHS operations. Information submitted may be used to evaluate the technical functionality of our website. Information provided may also be utilized to address inappropriate use or communications associated with our website.
We do not share any personally identifiable information of any individual collected on our website with any third party unrelated to us, except in situations where we must provide information for legal purposes or investigations, to protect our rights in or the safety of our website, to protect the safety or rights of other users of our website or if so directed by such individual through a proper authorization.
Non-Personal Identifying Information
We collect non-personal information such as website usage, traffic patterns, site performance and related statistics in aggregate based on our tracking of your visits to our website. Non-personal information may include the type of browser you are using, the third-party website from which your visit originated, the operating system you are using, the domain name of your Internet service provider, the search terms you use on our website, and the specific web pages you visit.
How we collect Information
Newsletters and Email Communications
NGHS offers you the opportunity to receive e-newsletters and e-publications related to our services, news and announcements. You can sign up for free and can unsubscribe at any time through the contact information contained in those communications.
Other communications that you send to us via email may be shared with a customer service representative, employee, medical expert or other NGHS employee that is best able to respond to your inquiry. Email communications are not completely secure or confidential. It is possible that an email may be accessed or read by other internet users. Please do not use email for communications you wish to keep protected and secure.
“Phishing” is a scam designed to steal your personal information. If you receive an email that looks like it is from us asking you for your personal information, do not respond. We will never request your password, user name, credit card information or other personal information through email.
Forms and Surveys
Our website contains forms through which users may request information or supply feedback to us. In some cases, telephone numbers, email addresses or return addresses are required so that we can supply requested information to you, and in other cases, correct names and addresses are required to process credit card payments. All information collected on forms throughout our website are stored on a HIPAA-compliant server to ensure that information remains secure.
After you fill out a form, we may contact you with follow-up information related to your request. We do not provide any information supplied on our web forms to any outside organization for any reason (other than where we may be required to by law, or as necessary to process credit card information). We do not save this personal information for any other reason.
Occasionally, we may survey visitors to our site. The information from these surveys is used in aggregate form to help us understand the needs of our visitors so that we can improve our site. We generally do not ask for information in surveys that would personally identify you. If we do request contact information for follow-up, you may decline to provide it. If survey respondents provide personal information (such as an email address) in a survey, it is shared only with those people who need to see it to respond to the question or request.
We collect information about visitors to our site using “first party cookies”, which are alphanumeric identifiers that we transfer to your computer’s hard drive through your web browser. Cookies are never associated with specific personal identities. First party cookies are distinct from third party cookies that they are created and directly served by the company hosting the website.
We may use both session ID cookies and persistent cookies. A session ID cookie expires when you close your internet browser. A persistent cookie is stored on your computer. Cookies enable us to track and target the interest of our visitors to enhance your experience on our website.
You can delete our cookies at any time. The “help” section, located on the toolbar of most browsers, will tell you how to prevent your browser from accepting new cookies, how to have the browser notify you when you receive a new cookie or how to disable cookies altogether. Since cookies allow you to take full advantage of some of our website’s best features, we recommend that you leave them turned on.
Our internet server automatically tracks (but does not store) the Internet Protocol (IP) address of the computers that access our site. An IP address is a number that is assigned to your computer when you access the internet. NGHS may use this information to evaluate how visitors navigate our websites and help improve the content.
Please note that although such information is not personally identifiable, we can determine from an IP address a visitor’s Internet Service Provider and the geographic location of his or her point of connectivity.
An IP address must be assigned to devices that access the internet. IP addresses are used to make the connection between your device and the websites and services you use. You can’t prevent a website or app from getting the IP address of your device.
Your IP address includes some general information about your device location and we use that information to display your approximate location in the website and mobile app user experience. We identify your device’s approximate location from your IP address, which is provided to us when you visit our website. We do this to provide you a customized experience on our website and mobile app, including the display of location-based information that is relevant to you and your care.
Please note for mobile apps, you may opt in or out of location-based services by changing the location permission settings on your device.
NGHS utilizes Google Analytics 4 to gather certain information automatically and store for analytical purposes. This information includes browser type, referring/exit pages, operating system, date/time stamp (to the closest hour), and clickstream data. Internet (IP) addresses and internet service providers (ISP) information is collected, but not stored or retained. We use this information to track and compile non-personal information to analyze trends, monitor visitor traffic within our website content, and gather aggregate demographic information about our visitors. We may combine this log file information with other information we collect from or about you to help improve the services we offer, our marketing, analytics or website functionality.
You may choose to opt out of Google Analytics by going to the following links:
Call Tracking Metrics
We use a call tracking system, Call Tracking Metrics, to monitor the quality of some of our calls and improve our marketing efforts or website user experience. Call Tracking Metrics is a HIPAA-compliant platform that treats all personal identifiable data with a high degree of security.
Call Tracking Metrics Privacy Information
Links to other websites
Our website content may contain links to other websites not owned by NGHS. These third-party websites have different privacy notices and practices. If you submit any information to those websites, your information is governed by the Privacy Statement published on that website. We encourage you to carefully read the Privacy Statement for any website you visit.
NGHS provides reasonable and appropriate security measures to protect our website content and any personal information you may provide against foreseeable hazards. When you enter sensitive information (such as a credit card numbers or Protected Health Information) on our forms, we encrypt the transmission of that information using secure socket layer technology (SSL).
When you come across a web page that is secured, your browser will likely display a “closed lock” or other symbol to inform you that SSL has been enabled. The web address should start with “https://” rather than “http://”. SSL allows a secure connection between your web browser and a web server. No computer system or information however can ever by fully protected from every possible threat or hazard and therefore we cannot warrant the security of any information you transmit to us, and you do so at your own risk.
We do not share personal information with third parties unrelated to NGHS, except when required to for legal purposes or investigations. We may share your personal information with third parties who we have contracted with to help us provide services. We will ensure that these third parties have agreed not to use or disclose your personal information except to help us provide the services.