OCR Issues Draft Guidance on Security Risk Analysis

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the Department of Health and Human Services  (HHS) issued on May 7, 2010, Security Rule Draft Guidance on Risk Analysis. This is the first in a “series of guidance documents [that] will assist organizations in identifying and implementing the most effective and appropriate administrative, physical, and technical safeguards to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of electronic protected health information.  The materials will be updated annually, as appropriate.”

This eight-page document is available online.

The Draft Guidance on Risk makes the following key points:

“The Security Rule does not prescribe a specific risk analysis methodology, recognizing that methods will vary dependent on the size, complexity, and capabilities of the organization.  Instead, the Rule identifies risk analysis as the foundational element in the process of achieving compliance, and it establishes several objectives that any methodology adopted must achieve….

“The risk analysis process should be ongoing.  In order for an entity to update and document its security measures ‘as needed,’ which the Rule requires, it should conduct continuous risk analysis to identify when updates are needed….

“Risk analysis is the first step in an organization’s Security Rule compliance efforts.  Risk analysis is an ongoing process that should provide the organization with a detailed understanding of the risks to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of e-PHI.”

OCR requests public comment on the Draft Guidance on Risk Analysis, which can be sent to OCRPrivacy@hhs.gov.

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