News & Analysis as of

Beware of Phishing Email Disguised as Official OCR Audit Communication

The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has posted an alert (and a follow-up alert) warning health plans, health care providers, and their vendors of a mock communication...more

HIPAA Settlement Emphasizes Importance of Accurate Hybrid Entity Designations

On November 22, 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office for Civil Rights (OCR), announced that University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMA) agreed to settle allegations relating to the HIPAA Privacy...more

Cloud Service Providers Beware, You May Be Subject to HIPAA Without Knowing It

The use of cloud service providers has exploded in the past several years. According to estimates from Gartner, the market for cloud services is expected to reach $204 billion in 2016. But the use of cloud service providers...more

HHS Designates Cloud Service Providers as Business Associates Under HIPAA

Cloud service providers that process electronic protected health information (ePHI) are business associates under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), even if the PHI is encrypted and the...more

Confusing Joint Guidance published by OCR and FTC on HIPAA Authorization Forms

There are arguments that there is a dearth of guidance by both the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC), so when guidance comes out, we listen. But the most recent guidance jointly issued by the...more

HHS Publishes New Guidance on HIPAA and Cloud Computing

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has issued a new guidance regarding HIPAA compliance and the use of cloud computing solutions. The guidance is intended to assist covered entities...more

Small-Breach Focus Shows Growing Scope Of HIPAA Probes

Flexing yet more enforcement muscle under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, on Aug. 18, 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights announced that it will more widely...more

HSS Issues New Guidance on Ransomware Attacks Against HIPAA-Covered Entities

Ransomware attacks at hospitals and other healthcare facilities have dramatically increased over the last several years, putting healthcare providers in the uncomfortable position of having to consider paying thousands of...more

HIPAA Hat Trick: Security Violations Lead to Three Major Settlements

Look no further than the last three weeks for proof that HIPAA enforcement is on the rise. Failure to maintain the security of information systems containing patient information has cost healthcare providers over $10...more

Illinois Revises Data Privacy Statute

Earlier this year, Illinois enacted a number of changes to the Illinois Personal Information Protection Act (“PIPA”). The amendments to PIPA, among other things, expand the definition of personal information subject to...more

Health Update - July 2016

The Vulnerability of Healthcare Information - According to a report the Brookings Institute issued in May 2016, 23% of all data breaches occur in the healthcare industry. Nearly 90% of healthcare organizations had some...more

BYOD Risks under HIPAA – Does Your HIPAA Compliance Program Adequately Address the Ever Increasing Use of Portable Electronic...

Many U.S. employers are now allowing employees to use their own personal handheld devices and laptop computers for work-related purposes. As the age of employer-provided devices is coming to an end and “bring your own device”...more

Ex-Husband's Revenge Leads to HHS Trophy

Patient care is not confined to a single office or exam room, or a single physician or other provider. Caring for patients these days now includes complex coordination among physicians, nurse, technicians, staff, management,...more

OIG Reports Insufficient Oversight Of HIPAA Compliance

The HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) must improve its oversight and enforcement of patient information privacy and security rules by “covered entities” and their business associates under the Health Information Portability...more

Cure of Security Rule Violations Following Breach of EPHI Cannot Save Covered Entities from $750,000 Settlement; Non-Breach...

More than three years after the Cancer Care Group, P.C. (“CCG”) notified the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) of a breach of unsecured electronic protected health...more

Don't Wait for It; Recent HIPAA Enforcement Action Signal More to Come in Phase 2 Audits

Officials at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights (HHS OCR) have recently selected a vendor to conduct the second wave of HIPAA audits. These so-called "Phase 2 Audits" are set to commence...more

OCR Enters into $750,000 Settlement with Physician Practice for HIPAA Violations

On September 2, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights (OCR) announced a settlement with Cancer Care Group, P.C., a thirteen-physician oncology practice in Indiana related to violations of the...more

OCR settlement reiterates importance of proactive security rule compliance

On September 2, 2015, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) announced that Cancer Care Group, P.C. (CCG), a physician practice located in Indiana, agreed to pay $750,000 as part of a settlement to resolve...more

Stolen Laptop Bag Leads to $750,000 Fine for Oncology Group

On September 2, 2015, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced a substantial settlement with an Indiana-based oncology group, Cancer Care Group, P.C. (CCG). Under the terms of...more

$750,000 HIPAA Settlement Reinforces Need to Be Proactive

As the Department of Health and Human Services’ (“HHS”) Office of Civil Rights (“OCR”) proceeds with its second round of HIPAA audits, this time covering business associates as well as covered entities, a recent settlement...more

St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center Pays $218,400 to Settle Alleged HIPAA Security Case Stemming from Use of Cloud-Based Document...

Alleged HIPAA Violations Resulted from Medical Center’s Failure to Risk Assess Internet-Based Document Sharing Application and Inadequate Breach Response. The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for...more

Internet-Based Document Sharing Applications Scrutinized

On July 8, 2015, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center (SEMC) located in Boston, Massachusetts entered into an agreement following an investigation...more

Hospital’s Cloud-Based Document-Sharing Practices Lead to $218,400 HIPAA Settlement

On July 10, 2015, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced a substantial settlement with St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center (SEMC). Under the terms of the settlement, the hospital...more

Use of File-Sharing Service Leads To $218,400 Fine For HIPAA Violations

Internet-based file-sharing services such as Dropbox and Google Drive can be easy and convenient to use, whether via the touch of an app on a mobile device or by opening a browser on a PC. Healthcare professionals are often...more

Massachusetts Hospital Agrees to Six-Figure Payment Related to HIPAA Compliance Allegations

St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center (SEMC), a tertiary care hospital based in Brighton, Mass., agreed to pay $218,400 to address deficiencies in its HIPAA compliance activities. The SEMC settlement continues a pattern of...more

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