Archives: Health Information Technology

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FDA Names First Acting Director of Medical Device Cybersecurity

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) named University of Michigan Associate Professor Kevin Fu Acting Director of Medical Device Security in its Center for Devices and Radiological Health. This is a newly created 12-month post in which Fu will “work to bridge the gap between medicine and computer science and help manufacturers protect medical … Continue Reading

More Movement towards Digital COVID Vaccination Records

A key tech initiative as COVID-19 vaccinations begin rolling out are digital health passports. One example is being developed by a group of large tech companies along with the Mayo Clinic as part of the Vaccination Credential Initiative. The Initiative’s digital vaccination record will likely be a smartphone app. The Initiative is leveraging the CommonPass … Continue Reading

OCR Releases Report Summarizing HIPAA Privacy and Security Compliance Failures

In the final days of 2020, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Health and Human Service (HHS) released a HIPAA Audits Industry Report (“the Report”), that could be quite helpful to covered entities and business associates for tackling HIPAA compliance as we enter the new year.  The Report examines OCR’s findings from … Continue Reading

As Voice Recognition Technology Market Surges, Organizations Face Privacy and Cybersecurity Concerns

A new report released by Global Market Insights, Inc. last month estimates that the global market valuation for voice recognition technology will reach approximately $7 billion by 2026, in main part due to the surge of AI and machine learning across a wide array of devices including smartphones, healthcare apps, banking apps and connected cars, … Continue Reading

Federal Agencies Issue Joint Alert on Imminent Cybercrime Threat to Healthcare Providers

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have issued a joint cybersecurity advisory stating they have credible information of an increased and imminent cybercrime threat to U.S. hospitals and healthcare providers. The advisory describes the tactics, techniques, and procedures … Continue Reading

Hacked Healthcare Provider Refuses to Pay Ransom, Attackers Target Psychotherapy Patients

Earlier this year, we reported on an evolution in the form of cyberattack known as ransomware –attackers transitioning from denying affected users access to critical data by encrypting it to removing data from the compromised systems and threatening public release in exchange for payment. These attacks typically target the companies maintaining the data. However, attackers … Continue Reading

New York and New Jersey Release COVID-19 Exposure Apps

New York and New Jersey release “COVID Alert NY” and “COVID Alert NJ,” apps designed to alert their users when they have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. These apps follow those released in Pennsylvania and Delaware and are soon to be joined by Connecticut. The states hope to enhance their contact … Continue Reading

OCR Releases New Guidance on HIPAA for Mobile Health Technology

Over the past few years, and particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights in Action (OCR) has made countless efforts to enhance its Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) guidance and other related resources on its website. Last week, the OCR launched a new feature … Continue Reading

OCR is Serious About Patients’ Rights to Access Records, Announcing Enforcement Actions Against 5 Providers

When providers, health plans, business associates, and even patients and plan participants think of the HIPAA privacy and security rules (‘HIPAA Rules”), they seem to be more focused on the privacy and security aspects of the HIPAA Rules. That is, for example, safeguarding an individual’s protected health information (PHI) to avoid data breaches or avoiding … Continue Reading

HIPAA Covered Entities and Business Associates Need an IT Asset Inventory List, OCR Recommends

Last week, in its Cybersecurity Summer Newsletter, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) published best practices for creating an IT asset inventory list to assist healthcare providers and business associates in understanding where electronic protected health information (ePHI) is located within their organization, and improve HIPAA Security Rule compliance.  OCR investigations often find that organizations … Continue Reading

OCR Warns HIPAA Covered Entities: When You Learn About HIPAA Violations, Fix Them

Roger Severino, Director of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), provides advice for HIPAA covered health care providers: When informed of potential HIPAA violations, providers owe it to their patients to quickly address problem areas to safeguard individuals’ health information According to OCR allegations, a … Continue Reading

Examples of COVID19 Screening, Social Distancing, and Contact Tracing Technologies and Related Legal and Practical Issues

As organizations work feverishly to return to business in many areas of the country, they are mobilizing to meet the myriad of challenges for providing safe environments for their workers, customers, students, patients, and visitors. Chief among these challenges are screening for COVID19 symptoms, observing social distancing, contact tracing, and wearing masks. Fortunately, innovators are … Continue Reading

Beware, Persons Posing as OCR Investigators Demand PHI, Says OCR Alert

On April 3, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued an alert to covered entities and business associates. Evidently, one or more individuals are posing as OCR Investigators and contacting HIPAA covered entities and business associates in an attempt to obtain protected health information (PHI).  The individual identifies on the telephone as an OCR investigator, … Continue Reading

More OCR Guidance on COVID-19 and HIPAA Relief – Business Associates

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has been moving swiftly to provide guidance on addressing key regulatory issues to aid in the fight to contain and defeat COVID-19. Some of the latest developments include exercising its enforcement discretion on certain good faith disclosures of protected health information (PHI) by business associates, adding FAQs for telehealth … Continue Reading

OCR HIPAA Guidance For Getting PHI of COVID-19 Exposed Individuals to First Responders

With first responders on the front lines of helping to fight the coronavirus, sharing information about potential exposure to COVID-19 is critical to protecting them and preventing further spread. In these situations, the information shared is most often “protected health information” (PHI) under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Privacy Rule. … Continue Reading

HHS Removes Enforcement Barriers for Telehealth during COVID-19 Nationwide Public Health Emergency

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) wants to make it easier for individuals to reach a healthcare provider, including those most at risk (older persons and persons with disabilities). Effective immediately, during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency, OCR announced it will not enforce noncompliance with … Continue Reading

Work-From-Home Checklist During the Coronavirus Pandemic

The debate over working from home continues, reaching a high point in 2013 when Marissa Mayer, then CEO of Yahoo, sought to curb the practice. However, as the Coronavirus continues to spread across the U.S., more companies are instructing their employees to work-from-home as a social distancing technique to help contain the spread and remain … Continue Reading

New York SHIELD Act FAQs

Over the past few months, businesses across the country have been focused on the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) which dramatically expands privacy rights for California residents and provides a strong incentive for businesses to implement reasonable safeguards to protect personal information. That focus is turning back east as the Stop Hacks and Improve Electronic … Continue Reading

Health Plan Sponsors – Have You Updated Your Vendor Agreements for Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Confidentiality Regulations?

Employers that sponsor group health plans (medical, dental, vision, HFSA) are used to negotiating detailed administrative services agreements with vendors that provide services to those plans. Many also are familiar with “business associate agreements” required under HIPAA that must be in place with certain vendors, such as third-party claims administrators (TPAs), wellness program vendors, benefits … Continue Reading

Coronavirus Raises Privacy Concerns for Healthcare Providers and their Workers

The outbreak of a new coronavirus that is believed to have began in central Chinese city of Wuhan and now appears to be spreading to the United States is driving concerns for organizations around preparedness regarding their operations, their customers, and their employees. Both the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the State … Continue Reading

Response to Yelp Review Costs Small Dental Practice $10,000 and Two Years of Monitoring to Settle HIPAA Complaint

No business likes to receive bad reviews on Yelp® or anywhere else in social media. When they do, some feel the need to respond to clarify or rebut the reviews, but they must do so carefully. This is particularly true for HIPAA covered entities, as their responses could include protected health information (PHI). A recent … Continue Reading

OCR Recognizes Insider Threats to HIPAA PHI, You Should Too

As we have observed here, news reports of security risks, hackings and breaches caused by individuals, terror groups or even countries around the world certainly are important and can be unsettling. But, for many organizations, including healthcare providers and business associates, a significant and perhaps more immediate area of data risk is malicious insiders. On … Continue Reading

Healthcare Organizations, Is Your Patient Portal Secure?

Co-author: Valerie Jackson While healthcare organizations are embracing new technologies such as patient portals, a recent report shows that organizations’ cybersecurity measures for these technologies are behind the times. A patient portal is a secure online website that allows patients to access their Electronic Health Record from any device with an Internet connection. Many patient … Continue Reading

EMR Provider Settles OCR Allegations for $100,000; Is Your EMR provider HIPAA compliant?

Many health care providers, including small and medium-sized physician practices, rely on a number of third party service providers to serve their patients and run their businesses. Perhaps the most important of these is a practice’s electronic medical record (EMR) provider, which manages and stores patient protected health information. EMR providers generally are business associates … Continue Reading
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