As we discussed in our previous blog post, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released guidance this past June to address how health care providers could contact, in a HIPAA-compliant manner, recovered COVID-19 patients to provide them with information about donating blood and plasma to potentially help other COVID-19 patients. On August 24, OCR released an updated version of that guidance to address similar communications from health plans. The amended guidance provides that health plans may also reach out to recovered COVID-19 patients about blood and plasma donation, subject to the same restrictions applicable to health care providers.
According to OCR, the addition of health plans to its guidance is designed to further the Trump Administration’s goal of encouraging recovered COVID-19 patients to donate their plasma. OCR is not alone in working to ease the way for convalescent plasma use. The updated guidance comes on the heels of the Food and Drug Administration’s issuance last week of an emergency use authorization for investigational convalescent plasma to treat hospitalized COVID-19 patients.