Gmail, Google Apps for Business HIPAA Business Associate Agreements

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability of Act demands that all HIPAA covered businesses prevent unauthorized access to “Protected Health Information” or PHI. PHI includes patients’ names, addresses, and all information pertaining to the patients’ health and payment records. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, “HIPAA Rules apply to covered entities and business associates.” Complete compliance with HIPAA guidelines requires implementation of basic and advanced security measures. Basic security includes benchmark-based password creation and use, personnel education and training, limited access to PHI, data encryption, use of firewalls, antivirus software, and digital signatures. With increasing adoption of electronic medical records and cloud-based software-as-service (SaaS), advanced security measures are…

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The Reality of HIPAA Violations and Enforcement

Who is ultimately responsible for enforcement of HIPAA and what types of penalties are levied when a covered entity or business associate is found to be non-compliant with the regulations? Many healthcare offices and their staff don’t know the answer to this question; they have only a vague notion about the enforcement and the consequences of not adhering to the law. The real HIPAA enforcement agency is the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office for Civil Rights (OCR). Complaints are filed with the OCR, and they are responsible for administering, investigating and enforcing the HIPAA privacy standards. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) enforce the code…

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Five Steps to HIPAA Security Compliance

The health insurance portability and accountability act has set various guidelines, which should be adhered to by anyone who handles any electronic medical data. These guidelines stipulate that all medical practices must ensure that all necessary measures are in place while saving, accessing and sharing any electronic medical data to keep patient data secure . Lack of compliance to the HIPAA security standards could lead to large fines and in extreme cases even loss of medical licenses. Several steps can be followed by medical practices to ensure compliance to HIPAA standards. These steps include: Run a complete risk assessment of the medical practice Some medical practices adopted electronic health recording…

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Dentists: Don’t Forget HIPAA Compliance

Since the inception of HIPAA in 1996, its broad implications have affected all areas of health care including dentistry. And, if asked, most dentists and their staff would say they know what the HIPAA regulations are, and yes, they have been trained, but are they really up to date with HIPAA’s ever expanding changes and compliance requirements?  Are they trained in the areas of HIPAA Security, Privacy, Enforcement and Breach Notification Rules and do they know that they must be in compliance with the 2013 HIPAA Omnibus Final Rule by September 23, 2013? Compared to the ever-growing size of medical practices today, most dental offices are still rather small with…

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Six Primary Goals of the HITECH Breach Notification Requirement

The first part of the HITECH Act is called “Improved Privacy Provisions and Security Provisions”. Section 13402 is the section that starts the discussion of privacy and security and is titled “Notification in case of breach”. This section accomplishes the following: Identifies who this section applies to: Covered Entities and Business Associates. Defines the time frame as to when breaches should be reported to individuals, and depending on severity, mass media, and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The type of information that must appear in the notification letters. Definition of Unsecured Protected Health Information. Note that the HITECH Act delegated the final definition to the HHS vis…

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HITECH and HIPAA Training: Time to Double Down

As the healthcare industry continues to digest profound HITECH changes to HIPAA Privacy and Security rules, two observations already are apparent and indisputable for covered entities and their business associates.  First, time and resources spent on a workforce that is well-trained on the Privacy and Security rules will be an investment of exponential value. Second, enforcement of those same rules will make negligent and uncorrected errors very costly. A well-trained workforce makes fewer mistakes, and identifies and fixes those that it makes. A workforce that violates the rules because it does not know them or does not care to know them makes an inviting target for HITECH’s new enforcement initiatives….

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