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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HIPAA Final Rule: Enforcement: Four Penalty Tiers

February 21, 2013.  Today, we examine the four penalty tiers for violations of HIPAA Rules in the Final Rule:  Modifications to the HIPAA Privacy, Security, Enforcement, and Breach Notification Rules Under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act [HITECH Act] and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act; Other Modifications of the HIPAA Rules, which was published in the Federal Register on January 25, 2013.  The effective date of the Final Rule is March 26, 2013, and covered entities and business associates must comply by September 23, 2013. We start with two definitions, the first of which, Reasonable cause, was modified in the Final Rule, and the second of…

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HIPAA Final Rule: Modification of Business Associate Definition, Part (4)–Personal Health Record Vendor

February 12, 2013.  Today, we examine the role of the personal health record vendor in paragraph (3)—the third paragraph of four—of the business associate definition, as modified by the Final Rule:  Modifications to the HIPAA Privacy, Security, Enforcement, and Breach Notification Rules Under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act [HITECH Act] and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act; Other Modifications of the HIPAA Rules, which was published in the Federal Register on January 25, 2013.  The effective date of the Final Rule is March 26, 2013, and covered entities and business associates must comply by September 23, 2013. Here is the second of three parts of this…

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HIPAA Final Rule: Modification of Business Associate Definition, Part (3)

February 11, 2013.  Today, we start to examine (3)—the third paragraph of four—of the business associate definition, as modified by the Final Rule:  Modifications to the HIPAA Privacy, Security, Enforcement, and Breach Notification Rules Under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act [HITECH Act] and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act; Other Modifications of the HIPAA Rules, which was published in the Federal Register on January 25, 2013.  The effective date of the Final Rule is March 26, 2013, and covered entities and business associates must comply by September 23, 2013. Here is the first of three parts of this paragraph, (i), which is the subject of today’s…

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HIPAA Final Rule: Business Associate Notification Timing, Policy and Procedure Updates, Retraining, and Documentation

February 1, 2013.  Today, we wrap up discussion of breach notification in the Final Rule: Modifications to the HIPAA Privacy, Security, Enforcement, and Breach Notification Rules Under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act [HITECH Act] and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act; Other Modifications to the HIPAA Rules.  The Final Rule is effective on March 26, 2013, and requires compliance by covered entities and business associates on September 23, 2013.  The focus is on timing of reporting a breach by a business associate to a covered entity, and, because the definition of breach was modified in the Final Rule, on the requirements to update policies and procedures,…

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HIPAA Final Rule: Breach Notification Guidance Safe Harbor

January 30, 2013.  Today, we look at the definition of unsecured protected health information and the Guidance Specifying the Technologies and Methodologies that Render Protected Health Information Unusable , Unreadable, or Indecipherable to Unauthorized Individuals [“Guidance”] as discussed in the January 25, 2013 Final Rule: Modifications to the HIPAA Privacy, Security, Enforcement, and Breach Notification Rules under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act [HITECH Act]; Other Modifications to the HIPAA Rules.  The Final Rule becomes effective on March 26, 2013, and requires compliance by covered entities and business associates on September 23, 2013. Here is the definition of unsecured protected health information: “protected health information that is…

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Final HIPAA/HITECH Act Privacy, Security, Enforcement, Breach Notification Rules Published in Federal Register January 25, 2013.

January 25, 2013.  The Final Rule is published, at last!  Modifications to the HIPAA Privacy, Security, Enforcement, and Breach Notification Rules Under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act; Other Modifications to the HIPAA Rules; Final Rule cleared the Office of Management and Budget on January 16, was issued online on the Federal Register’s Electronic Public Inspection Desk in pre-publication format on January 17, and published in the Federal Register today.  The Final Rule is 136 pages (pp.5566-5702).  The effective date of the Final Rule is Tuesday, March 26, 2013, and the compliance date is Monday, September 23, 2013. Here is the…

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