Tag Archives: OCR

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

Legislators and Regulators Weigh in On Privacy and Data Security Protections for Healthcare Providers Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

As they work to combat the surging COVID-19 virus, healthcare providers recently were reminded by legislators and regulators of the importance of data security and privacy protections. On the data security front, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal, Tom Cotton, David Perdue, and Mark Warner recently wrote to the Director of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s … 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

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

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

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

Small Michigan Medical Practice To Close Following Ransomware Attack

Small and midsized enterprises (SMEs) continue to be targeted by ransomware, phishing and other cyberattacks; the consequences of which could be devastating. Those consequences include putting SMEs out of business, which is unfortunately the case for one small medical practice in Battle Creek, Michigan, as reported by HIPAAJournal. The reality is that the effects of these attacks … Continue Reading

A Trio of OCR HIPAA Breach Resolutions: Is Your Organization HIPAA Compliant?

Over the past thirty days, the Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) has reached three HIPAA breach resolutions, signaling to organizations that are covered entities and business associates under HIPAA, the importance of instituting basic best practices for data breach prevention and response. On November 26th, the OCR announced a settlement with Allergy Associations of Hartford, … Continue Reading

ONC and OCR Update HIPAA Security Risk Assessment Tool for National Cyber Security Awareness Month

October 2018 marks the 15th annual National Cyber Security Awareness Month. In honor of this occasion, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) have jointly launched an updated HIPAA Security Risk Assessment (SRA) Tool to help covered entities and business associates comply with … Continue Reading

Cost-Benefit Analysis 101 for Healthcare Providers

Nary a week goes by without news of a data breach by a healthcare provider…while there are certainly a good number of breaches resulting from a breach of cybersecurity defenses or from the wrongful exploitation of system security weaknesses, there is still a risk to healthcare providers resulting from the internal operations of the healthcare … Continue Reading

Lessons To Be Learned From The Breach Of Nearly 500,000 Individual Health Records Reported In September 2017

A recent report indicates that nearly 500,000 individual health records were breached in September 2017. This figure is taken from the 39 healthcare data breaches involving more than 500 records that were reported to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights in September 2017.  Healthcare providers suffered the most breaches with … Continue Reading

Global Cyberattack Exploits Known Vulnerabilities

As you likely know by now, international cybercriminals launched a worldwide ransomware attack last Friday with the European law enforcement agency Europol reporting over 100,000 affected organizations in 150 countries, including the U.S. Reports indicate that health care providers, universities, and other large companies were all targeted. The Department of Health and Human Services also … Continue Reading

Small Healthcare Provider Pays $31,000 for Failing to Have a Business Associate Agreement With File Storage Vendor

Disclosing protected health information (PHI) to a business associate without a compliant business associate agreement (BAA) is an improper disclosure under the HIPAA privacy and security regulations. According to the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR), an error like that can cost a small healthcare provider $31,000. OCR recently announced a resolution agreement (pdf) with … Continue Reading

$3.2M Fine for Failure to Protect Electronic Records

The Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights (“OCR”) fined a Texas hospital $3.2 million for its impermissible disclosure of unsecured electronic protected health information (ePHI) and non-compliance over many years with multiple standards of the HIPAA Security Rule. Children’s Medical Center of Dallas filed breach reports with OCR in 2010 and … Continue Reading

HHS Issues Cloud Computing Guidance Which Is Helpful To All Users of Cloud Services

Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) provided guidance for HIPAA covered entities and business associates that use or want to use cloud computing services involving protected health information (PHI). Covered entities and business associates seeking cloud services often have many concerns regarding HIPAA compliance, and this guidance … Continue Reading

Smaller HIPAA Breaches To Get More Attention by Office for Civil Rights

The HIPAA breach notification rule has two buckets for classifying data breaches – those that involve “protected health information” (PHI) of 500 or more individuals and those that involve fewer than 500 individuals. Since the breach notification rule became effective, the Office of Civil Rights’ (OCR) focus has been on the 500 and over bucket. But … Continue Reading

HIPAA and $15 Million in 2016

For years, many questioned whether the HIPAA privacy and security rules would be enforced. The agency responsible for enforcement, Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR), promised it would enforce the rules, but just after a period “soft” enforcement and compliance assistance. That period appears to be ending. During the first seven months … Continue Reading
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