dataLocks148650499Backing up electronic health record data may become an important aspect of complying with and mitigating risk under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) if the U.S. Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights (OCR) heeds legislators’ recommendations.
Continue Reading Congress’ suggestions for ransomware treatment under HIPAA

Image copyright Catherine Lane 2015My New Year’s resolutions will likely be broken early and often in 2016. My consequences are mostly non-monetary: a few more pounds, a little less savings, and not winning the triathlon in my age group. Your consequences, as a HIPAA-covered entity or business associate, for not complying with the Privacy and Security Rules could be much greater, and could put you into serious debt to the HHS Office of Civil Rights (OCR). Therefore, we propose that you resolve now to become fully HIPAA compliant in 2016.

OCR delivered an early holiday gift, wrapped in the Director’s Sept. 23, 2015, report to the Office of Inspector General. In that report, she disclosed that OCR will launch Phase 2 of its HIPAA audit program in early 2016, focusing on noncompliance issues for both covered entities and business associates.

So, grab that cup of hot cocoa and peruse this review of 2014-2015 HIPAA enforcement actions, which should help identify noncompliance issues on which OCR will focus in 2016.
Continue Reading HIPAA compliance: another year older, but hopefully not deeper in debt

risk level conceptual meterCancer Care Group, P.C. settled alleged violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy and Security Rules on September 2 with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) for $750,000. Cancer Care, a radiation oncology private physician practice located in Indiana, also agreed to adopt a corrective action plan to remedy defects in its HIPAA compliance program.
Continue Reading $750K HIPAA settlement highlights importance of risk analysis, device control policy

WaveCrashingThe Anthem breach sent alarm waves through the health care industry and the employer health plan community. With 78.8 million affected individuals for Anthem and 11 million for the companion breach of Premera Blue Cross, the combined size ranks among the largest data breaches in history.

The Anthem and Premera breaches signal a sea change in the threat environment for health plans, a new reality that requires a fresh look at data security. Prudent employers with group health plans should take that fresh look now, by strengthening the data security provisions in their business associate agreements (BAAs) with third-party plan administrators, and also by updating their HIPAA-required security risk assessments.
Continue Reading Data Security for Employer Health Plans Post-Anthem

spinningPlatesiStock_000011904878_LargeIt’s a dangerous world for protected information, with major breaches in the news and a challenging cyber-threat environment behind the scenes. The healthcare industry is a prime target, especially given the premium value of health information on the black market. And healthcare entities face not only PHI breach exposures, but also security risks for other forms of protected information, such as PII and, for many, cardholder data.

Healthcare organizations must be prepared to respond to data breaches, but effective response is no small matter. There are 10 different channels of response activity for an organization that has suffered a security breach: Security, Legal, Forensic, Law Enforcement, Regulators, Insurance Coverage, Public Relations, Stakeholders, Notification, and Personnel Management. Most of these activities are involved in every breach, and all must be dealt with in significant breaches. These activities are not sequential. They play out in parallel, with interrelated effects… and with the response clock ticking.
Continue Reading The 10 Key Activities for Effective Data Breach Response – Are You Prepared?

Due diligence is often perceived as a mundane part of the mergers & acquisitions (M&A) process, but its importance in healthcare transactions is critical. Due diligence is one of the first steps of any transaction and involves a buyer undertaking an in-depth examination of the target to evaluate the business and uncover potential issues or liabilities. In the healthcare industry, diligence is especially important considering the heavy regulation of the industry, the unique areas of risk, and the significant liabilities that could be imposed upon a buyer if issues and liabilities are not identified before the transaction closes.
Continue Reading Unique Considerations in Healthcare M&A Part 1 – Due Diligence

A Dec. 1 Strafford webinar on the legal and regulatory challenges of Ebola will feature five Husch Blackwell attorneys. The 90-minute CLE webinar with interactive Q&A will provide guidance to healthcare counsel and their clients in addressing HIPAA and EMTALA concerns when treating Ebola patients.

The panel will discuss state and federal mandatory reporting requirements, employment issues and lessons learned from the first U.S. Ebola cases.
Continue Reading Husch Blackwell attorneys address Ebola challenges

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released a bulletin on Nov. 10 reminding entities covered under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) that the protections continue to be in effect during emergencies, including Ebola and other outbreaks. HHS wants to make sure healthcare providers are aware of the ways in which patient information may be shared under the HIPAA Privacy Rule in emergency situations.
Continue Reading HHS releases reminder about HIPAA rules in wake of Ebola outbreak

Now that patients with Ebola have landed on U.S. soil, hospitals and other healthcare providers must prepare for the possibility that a patient with Ebola will walk through the doors. In this Oct. 30 webinar, Husch Blackwell presenters will look at some of the pressing legal issues related to treating patients with communicable diseases such as Ebola, and what providers can do now to prepare their clinical, compliance and legal teams.
Continue Reading Upcoming webinar to offer legal, regulatory considerations for healthcare professionals preparing for Ebola