HITECH's Much-Anticipated HIPAA Audits Announced; 150 Unlucky Entities Will Soon Learn Their Fate


Health care providers, health plans, and other "covered entities" under HIPAA, along with their business associates, have a new reason to dust off their HIPAA compliance manuals: the HIPAA enforcement authorities are now taking proactive steps to ensure compliance. Rather than simply responding to complaints, HHS' Office of Civil Rights has just announced that it will soon start auditing for HIPAA compliance.

In early 2009, as a part of the Stimulus Act, Congress passed the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act ("HITECH"), which amended portions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 ("HIPAA"). One component of HITECH, Section 13411, required the US Department of Health and Human Services to conduct periodic audits of HIPAA covered entities and business associates to gauge compliance with HIPAA's privacy and security requirements.

HHS hired the consulting firm of Booz Allen Hamilton to help it develop audit protocols, and later hired KPMG to assist in the actual auditing of healthcare providers and health plans.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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