HIPAA Compliance for Medical Practices
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HIPAA Compliance for Medical Practices
HIPAA Compliance and HIPAA Risk management Articles, Tips and Updates for Medical Practices and Physicians
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Making The Most Out Of HIPAA/HITECH Compliance Consulting

Making The Most Out Of HIPAA/HITECH Compliance Consulting | HIPAA Compliance for Medical Practices | Scoop.it

Times are changing, and as new laws affect the health care sector, you can’t afford any future issues due to non-compliance. Planning is essential to avoid unnecessary costs and save time.

 

Though a federal mandate, at iHealthOne we believe this proactive measure will enhance the privacy and security of your electronic health records.

 

If customers establish you are HIPAA/HITECH non-compliant, you risk affecting their willingness to disclose essential health information to you.

 

Thanks to HIPAA/HITECH compliance consultancy, you have no reason for any concerns. In this article, we’ll walk you through this essential regulatory process.

 

IS HIPAA/HITECH COMPLIANCE CONSULTANCY ESSENTIAL?

 

Whether a seasoned or new practice, it helps to accept guidance from a consultancy on all phases of compliance.

 

A consultancy does extra research on the necessary and up-to-date information your staff require for implementation. It can provide further training for stress-free self-administration and subsequent compliance.

 

Consultant professionals conduct a risk analysis and advise on setting up safeguards to avoid HIPAA/HITECH violations. They provide detailed reports on risk exposure, as well as checklists and customized forms that suit your company.

 

This includes breach notifications, disaster recovery, and risk management solutions. Consequently, this can play an important role in improving your health strategy plans for smooth operation.

 

WHO SHOULD CONSIDER HIPAA/HITECH COMPLIANCE CONSULTING?

 

If you’re an entity that covers or provides healthcare payments and treatments, and you have access to patient information, HIPAA/HITECH compliance consultancy is vital. This also includes subcontractors and healthcare business associates.

 

EXTRA TIPS ON COMPLIANCE

 

Ensure you always comply on time. This will pave the way for effective management of patient data security and assessment services. Also, it will save you unneeded lawsuits or hefty fines for non-compliance.

 

EHR1 has a compliance department that can help you recognize potential gaps while guaranteeing 100 percent client data security and confidentiality.

 

You gain the most out of our quality technical safeguards. With the EHR1 certified cloud-based dental software, we counsel you on corrective measures to adopt before a compliance review or OCR audit. You also have access to our:

• Vulnerability scans
• Network penetration testing
• Electronic health records software upgrades
• Effective incident response planning
• Implementation of an information security program
• Improved customer trust and organizational reputation services, among others.

 

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
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Why You Should Follow HIPAA Compliance For The Success Of Your Dental Practice

Why You Should Follow HIPAA Compliance For The Success Of Your Dental Practice | HIPAA Compliance for Medical Practices | Scoop.it

In 2018, ten companies had to pay $28.7 Million to HIPAA as fines. The United States law requires all covered entities to comply with HIPAA. Covered entities, in this case, refers to health care providers, such as hospitals, dental clinics, and pharmacies.

 

The American Dental Association conducted research which indicated a significant increase in dental practices, both in terms of size and number.

 

Statistics show that US Citizens who had access to dental care rose to 248 Million in 2016, from 170 Million in 2006.

 

The increase in dental practices across the States makes them prone to cyber hacking.

 

This is where HIPAA comes in. For dentists, the HIPAA rule is inclusive of;

 

• A Security Rule
• Privacy Rule
• Breach Notification Rule

 

WHAT IS HIPAA?

 

HIPAA compliance refers to the process through which covered entities and business associates adhere to set rules which seek to protect Protected Health Information.

 

In simple terms, it seeks to ensure a patient’s healthcare data remains private. Protected Health Information is anyone’s healthcare data. The privacy and security rule control what healthcare professionals such as dentists can, or cannot do with your PHI.

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF HIPAA

 

HIPAA was initially introduced in 1996 to address insurance coverage for people working two jobs. It also sought to avoid health care fraud, and protect patients’ health information.

 

FOR YOUR DENTAL PRACTICE, FOLLOWING HIPAA WILL;

 

• Immensely help you transition from manual to electronic health records.
• Streamline your administrative healthcare functions.
• Protect your client’s health information.
• Set boundaries regarding using and releasing health records.
• Boost the efficiency of your clinic.
• Hold violators answerable if they violate a patient’s rights, through both criminal and civil penalties.

 

FOR YOUR PATIENTS, FOLLOWING HIPAA WILL;

 

• Safeguard their personal and sensitive health information.
• Give them control over who gets access to their information.
• They get a right to obtain and go through their health records, and they get to request corrections when necessary.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
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mark's curator insight, May 3, 10:58 AM
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HIPAA Privacy Complaint Results in Federal Criminal Prosecution for First Time

HIPAA Privacy Complaint Results in Federal Criminal Prosecution for First Time | HIPAA Compliance for Medical Practices | Scoop.it

For the first time, a HIPAA privacy complaint filed with the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has resulted in federal criminal prosecution.

 

A complaint was filed with OCR over an impermissible disclosure of a patient’s protected health information by a doctor. The doctor, Richard Alan Kaye of Suffolk, Va., was alleged to have shared PHI with the patient’s employer without consent from the patient – A violation of the HIPAA Privacy Rule.

 

The case against Kaye has been referred to the Department of Justice, which has pressed charges. While OCR has referred more than 500 HIPAA violation cases in the past, this if the first time that an investigation of a privacy complaint has resulted in criminal prosecution.

 

Kaye had previously worked at Sentara Obici Hospital in Suffolk, Va., as Medical Director of its Psychiatric Care Center. The patient had been enrolled in a mental health treatment program at the hospital and Kaye treated and subsequently discharged the patient. On discharge, Kaye stated that the patient was not a threat to the public.

 

Federal prosecutors allege Kaye shared PHI with the patient’s employer “under the false pretenses that the patient was a serious and imminent threat to the safety of the public, when in fact he knew that the patient was not such a threat.”

 

While it was previously possible for egregious HIPAA violations to result in criminal prosecutions for HIPAA covered entities, filing charges against individuals was problematic. When individuals were discovered to have violated the privacy of patients, and the violations warranted criminal prosecution, it was necessary to file charges under the aiding and abetting theory – The abuse of an individual’s position to violate HIPAA Rules.

 

However, the 2009 Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act) provided further clarification on criminal prosecutions for HIPAA violations, and made the process of prosecuting individuals for HIPAA privacy violations more straightforward.

 

If cases are investigated and OCR determines HIPAA Rules have been violated by covered entities, the cases are typically resolved by OCR, often via settlements. However, if individuals are alleged to have violated HIPAA Rules, criminal penalties may be appropriate. In such cases, OCR can refer the cases to the Department of Justice, the federal attorney general, and/or state attorneys general to pursue criminal charges against those individuals.

 

While criminal cases have been filed against individuals who violated HIPAA Rules and impermissibly disclosed PHI, the uncertainty of pursuing cases against individuals prior to the passing of the HITECH Act dissuaded federal prosecutors from pursuing cases. Since the HITECH Act was passed, there have been referrals of cases, although this is understood to be the first time that the Department of Justice has actively pursued criminal charges against an individual following the referral of a privacy complaint by OCR.

 

There is no private cause of action in HIPAA. While private citizens can file complaints with the OCR over alleged violations of HIPAA Rules, they are not permitted to file lawsuits against covered entities for HIPAA violations. The lack of criminal penalties for HIPAA violations may have dissuaded patients from filing complaints. Now the Department of Justice is taking action against an individual for an egregious HIPAA privacy violation, it may encourage more patients to file complaints with OCR.

 

This DOJ case shows federal authorities are now taking HIPAA Privacy Rule violations much more seriously. OCR is also training state attorneys general on HIPAA enforcement. After state attorney generals have received training, it is expected they too will take a more aggressive stance against covered entities that have violated the privacy of state residents.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
Contact Details :

inquiry@technicaldr.com or 877-910-0004
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If your package is not delivered to you because of our error, we will offer you a reshipment. We will ship a similar request for nothing out of your pocket. Inform us quickly in that regard so we solve the issue.

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OCR Releases New HIPAA Breach Reporting Tool for “Wall of Shame”

OCR Releases New HIPAA Breach Reporting Tool for “Wall of Shame” | HIPAA Compliance for Medical Practices | Scoop.it

Earlier this week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released a redesigned HIPAA Breach Reporting Tool on their site.

The HIPAA Breach Reporting Tool is commonly called the “Wall of Shame” because it lists all organizations that have had health care data breaches affecting more than 500 individuals that have occurred since enforcement began. The Wall of Shame is a searchable, permanent database of HIPAA violations maintained by OCR.

The new Breach Reporting Tool allows you to search the full archive of breaches, and gives access to an “Under Investigation” tab. The tool has been redesigned to make it easier than ever before to look through OCR’s investigation history. This makes the consequences of a data breach or HIPAA violation a permanent reputational issue for your organization–especially now that prospective patients are doing more and more research into behavioral health specialists they’re looking to work with.

Protecting your practice with a HIPAA compliance program is an essential way to keep your name off the Wall of Shame. Below, we take a look at exactly what the regulation requires so you know what to look for in a HIPAA compliance program for your practice.

The HIPAA Breach Notification Rule

HIPAA breach reporting and breach notification are essential parts of any organization’s HIPAA compliance. HIPAA breach reporting is regulated by the HIPAA Breach Notification Rule, which was first enacted in 2009 along with the HITECH Act.

The HIPAA Breach Notification Rule categorizes data breaches into two categories with specific requirements for follow-through on each. The two kinds of breaches that the Breach Notification Rule identifies are:

  • Minor Breach: any breach of protected health information that affects fewer than 500 individuals. Individuals must be notified of the breach within 60 days of discovery of the breach. ALL minor breaches that have occurred over the course of the year must be reported to OCR NO LATER than 60 days after the end of the calendar year. This date usually falls on March 1st or February 29th.
  • Meaningful Breach: any breach of protected health information that affects more than 500 individuals. Individuals must be notified within 30 days of the discovery of the breach, and local media must also be notified of the breach. Meaningful breaches must be reported to OCR immediately, within 60 days of the discovery of the breach itself.

Trends in HIPAA Enforcement

In January of 2017, OCR levied its first fine for a violation of the HIPAA Breach Notification Rule in the history of HIPAA enforcement.

The fine was levied against Presence Health, one of the largest health care networks in Illinois. The organization was fined $475,000 after more than 500 individuals were implicated in a meaningful breach. Over the course of its investigation, OCR found that Presence failed to notify the individuals within the 60 days mandated by the Breach Notification Rule.

This is just one example of the recent trend in unconventional HIPAA enforcement efforts that have been targeting health care professionals of all kind across the country.

The best way to mitigate your risk of being targeted by these breaches is to adopt a total HIPAA compliance program in your organization that addresses the full extent of the law. Don’t get caught unprepared!

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HIPAA Law Enforcement

HIPAA Law Enforcement | HIPAA Compliance for Medical Practices | Scoop.it

The battle between individuals’ privacy rights and the needs of law enforcement, has raged for centuries in one form or another. When the HIPAA Privacy Rule was implemented, the authors of this rule tried to appease, as it were, both sides.

 

The resulting “compromise” is that protected health information – the information the HIPAA Privacy Rule affords some protection from disclosure – can be disclosed when disclosure is needed by law enforcement.

 

There are limits, however, as to how, where, when, and why, law enforcement may obtain this information.

 

The HIPAA law enforcement exception to the general rule restricting use and disclosure of PHI (unless an exception permits or requires use or disclosure), is discussed below.

What is the HIPAA Law Enforcement Exception?

The HIPAA law enforcement exception can be found in the text of the HIPAA Privacy Rule. 

 

Did you vet your vendors? If not you’re at risk! Learn how to send your vendors risk assessments here.

 

The Privacy Rule provision that addresses whether PHI can be disclosed to law enforcement is 45 CFR § 164.512. This provision is entitled, “Uses and disclosures for which an authorization or opportunity to agree or object is not required.” 

 

The provision then lists circumstances under which PHI may be used or disclosed, despite the general rule. Circumstances allowing use of PHI without written authorization (or an opportunity to agree or object) include (among others):

 

  • A specific state or federal law requires the disclosure of PHI.
  • Public health activities, which include (among other things):
    • Reporting of disease or injury
    • Reporting vital events such as birth or death
    • Conducting of public health surveillance
    • Conducting of public health investigations
    • Conducting of public health interventions.
  • When a covered entity reasonably believes an individual is a victim of abuse, neglect, or domestic violence.
  • When a health oversight agency seeks to conduct health oversight activities authorized by law. These activities include: 
    • Inspections
    • Licensure or disciplinary actions
    • civil, administrative, or criminal proceedings or actions
    • Other activities necessary for appropriate oversight of the healthcare system, government benefit programs, and of:
      • Entities subject to government regulatory programs for which health information is necessary for determining compliance with program standards; or
      • Entities subject to civil rights laws for which health information is necessary for determining compliance.
      • Disclosures for judicial and administrative proceedings.
      • Law enforcement purposes

The HIPAA Law Enforcement Exception: What Does it Cover?

Covered entities may disclose protected health information to law enforcement officials for law enforcement purposes under the following six circumstances (subject to certain conditions): 

  • As required by law (including court orders, court-ordered warrants, subpoenas) and administrative requests; 
  • To identify or locate a suspect, fugitive, material witness, or missing person; 
  • In response to a law enforcement official’s request for information about a victim or suspected victim of a crime; 
  • To alert law enforcement of a person’s death, if the covered entity suspects that criminal activity caused the death; 
  • When a covered entity believes that protected health information is evidence of a crime that occurred on its premises; and 
  • By a covered health care provider in a medical emergency not occurring on its premises, when necessary to inform law enforcement about the commission and nature of a crime, the location of the crime or crime victims, and the perpetrator of the crime.
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10 Best Practices for HIPAA Compliance 

10 Best Practices for HIPAA Compliance  | HIPAA Compliance for Medical Practices | Scoop.it

A failure to understand HIPAA requirements can be a very costly mistake, as CardioNet learned just a couple months ago. In April, the wireless health services provider agreed to a settlement of $2.5 million for a potential noncompliance with the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules. (1) The violation occurred when a company laptop containing the ePHI of 1,391 individuals was stolen from an employee’s vehicle parked outside their home. The Office for Civil Rights (OCR)’s investigation revealed that CardioNet had insufficient risk analysis and risk management processes in place at the time of the theft. In addition, the company’s policies and procedures implementing the standards of the HIPAA Security Rule were in draft form and had not been implemented. CardioNet was also unable to produce any final policies or procedures regarding the implementation of safeguards for ePHI, including those for mobile devices. 

 

“Mobile devices in the health care sector remain particularly vulnerable to theft and loss,” said Roger Severino, OCR Director. “Failure to implement mobile device security by Covered Entities and Business Associates puts individuals’ sensitive health information at risk. This disregard for security can result in a serious breach, which affects each individual whose information is left unprotected. 

 

Most HIPAA violations can be prevented by implementing HIPAA regulations into practice policies and procedures and ensuring all individuals with access to patient information receive the proper training. Below are ten best practices for keeping your practice HIPAA compliant.

 

10 Best Practices for HIPAA Compliance

  • Implement safeguards such as password protected authorization and encryption to access patient-specific information on all computers, laptops, and devices.
  • Practices should keep all patient paperwork, charts, and records locked away and safe out of the public's view. Never leave patient information out or unattended.
  • Computer programs containing patient information should be closed and logged out of when not in use. Never share passwords between employees.
  • Ensure all computers have updated anti-virus software installed. This will help keep a practice guarded against malicious software.
  • Limit emailing PHI if the information can be sent another way. When faxing PHI, always use a cover sheet.
  • Always properly dispose of information containing PHI by shredding paper files.
  • Make sure employees are aware that using social media to share patient information is considered a violation of HIPAA law.
  • If patient information is being accessed at home, ensure all home computers and laptops are password protected.
  • Back up all disks that contain PHI. Store patients’ information in a HIPAA compliant cloud server.
  • Compliance training is one of the simplest ways to avoid a violation. Practices should provide ongoing, up-to-date training on the handling of PHI for all employees.
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HIPAA Enforcement Trends for 2017

HIPAA Enforcement Trends for 2017 | HIPAA Compliance for Medical Practices | Scoop.it

Since the start of 2017 alone, HIPAA enforcement trends have indicated that this could be the most costly year for fines in history.

HIPAA, as a regulation, is managed by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS designs and enacts policy and guidance about emerging trends in health care IT, patient privacy, and data security. The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is the HHS body responsible for HIPAA enforcement and investigation.

HIPAA Fines by Year

OCR has been cracking down on HIPAA enforcement significantly in the past few years.

Compare these HIPAA fine totals by year:

  • 2015: $6,193,000
  • 2016: $23,504,800
  • 2017: $17,093,200

So far, in the first six months of 2017 alone, fines have increased by almost 300% over 2015’s fine total. And if the trend continues, 2017 is very likely to outpace 2016’s record-breaking $23 million as well.

Why the Increase in HIPAA Enforcement?

When OCR begins a HIPAA investigation for a violation or breach, it can take 3-4 years to reach settlement with the organization under investigation.

Four years ago in 2013, HHS released its Omnibus Rule. The Omnibus Rule made it mandatory for HIPAA business associates to be compliant with HIPAA regulation. For background: a covered entity is a health care provider, and a business associate is a vendor hired by that provider.

In the past year, many of the multi-million dollar fines levied by OCR have been the direct result of BA non-compliance. If a covered entity shares health care information with a BA without first executing a business associate agreement, the sharing of that data is considered a violation of HIPAA and is subject to significant fines. In cases where OCR detects “willful neglect” of HIPAA regulation, fines can reach up to $50,000 per incident.

With HIPAA enforcement trending toward stricter and more severe financial penalties for improper relationships with BAs, it’s no wonder why fines have been steadily increasing year after year. Now that some of the major OCR investigations involving BA non-compliance have started reaching settlement, behavioral health providers need to ensure that their relationships with their vendors are lawful under the HIPAA Omnibus Rule.

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