Protected Health Information

News & Analysis as of

New FTC Data Breach Response Guidelines

Cybersecurity should always be at the top of any retailer’s priority list—and even more so as the holiday shopping season gets underway. To that end, the Federal Trade Commission’s newly-released Data Breach Response...more

OCR Alerts Listservs About Fake Phishing Email to Covered Entities and Business Associates

On November 28, 2016, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued an Alert to its listservs that a phishing email is being circulated on “mock HHS Departmental letterhead under the signature of OCR”s Director, Jocelyn Samuels”...more

OCR Examines Hybrid Entity Designation in Latest HIPAA Settlement

On November 22, 2016, the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass) agreed to pay $650,000 and enter into a corrective action plan to settle allegations that it violated the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules in connection...more

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

FTC Announces New Guidance on Ransomware

On November 10, 2016, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released new guidance for businesses and consumers on the impact of, and how to respond to ransomware. Ransomware is a form of malicious software that infiltrates...more

More on HIPAA Audits for 2016 and 2017–Desk Audits and On-Site Audits

As part of the ongoing HHS OCR HIPAA audit initiative, it is conducting “HIPAA desk audits.” These audits don’t involve auditors coming in your facility. Instead, covered entities are being asked to submit documents on...more

OCR Stresses Importance of Authentication in Newsletter

In a recent newsletter, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) encourages health care organizations to review their procedures around authentication and “ensure that they have the appropriate safeguards in place.”...more

Critical Cyber-Attack on Hospitals Now A Reality- A View From ‘Across the Pond’

Serious trouble for all health and care providers looms large. High risk women in labour and major trauma cases are being diverted to other hospitals after a cyber-attack recently shut down services at a hospital in the...more

HIPAA Audits – Phase 2: On-Site Audits Scheduled for First Quarter of 2017

Covered Entities and Business Associates may be ringing in the New Year with the prospect of responding to on-site HIPAA audits by federal regulators. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights...more

Three Former Warner Chilcott District Managers Prosecuted for HIPAA Violations

The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts recently announced that three former district managers of the pharmaceutical firm Warner Chilcott have been sentenced for violating the Health Insurance...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

FTC Issues Compliance Guidance for Organizations that Share and Collect PHI

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently issued Guidance to remind HIPAA compliant organizations that share and collect protected health information (PHI) for commercial activities that they must also comply with FTC Act...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

Recent HIPAA Settlements Highlight Importance Of Business Associate Agreements

Two related healthcare companies were forced to pay settlements with the federal government totaling over $500,000 over allegations relating to a data breach involving patient health information. Much of the negative...more

Clouding the Issue: Impact of Cloud-Based Software Service Providers on HIPAA Covered Entities and Business Associates

The message from patients to healthcare providers is clear: increase the quality of health services while decreasing cost.  The message from the federal government to healthcare providers and their business associates is even...more

Federal Circuit Affirms District Court Decision Holding Asserted Software Claims Invalid as Directed to Patent Ineligible Subject...

Plaintiff FairWarning sued defendant Iatric Systems for infringement of U.S. Patent No. 8,578,500 (the “’500 patent”), titled “System and Method of Fraud and Misuse Detection”. The ’500 patent discloses ways to detect fraud...more

Malware Attacks Against Healthcare Sector Rose 67 percent in Q3 of 2016

The NTT Security Q3 Quarterly Threat Intelligence Report states that the healthcare industry is the fifth most targeted industry for ransomware (behind financial services, retail, manufacturing and technology) for all cyber...more

Recent CyberSecurity Incidents Emphasize Importance of Cyberinsurance

As the threat of cyberattacks continues to pose daily threats to businesses large and small, more companies have turned to cyber insurance products to shore up protection against these disruptive threats. A spate of recent...more

New HIPAA Guidance Sheds Light on Existing Rules

Recently, regulators issued new guidance related to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”), Pub.L. 104–191, 110 Stat. 1936, enacted August 21, 1996. Specifically, on October 6, 2016, the Department...more

OCR Explains How Information Blocking Violates HIPAA

The US Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights recently posted guidance clarifying that a business associate such as an information technology vendor generally may not block or terminate access by a...more

Five Highlights from OCR Guidance On HIPAA Compliance In Cloud Computing

The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has issued guidelines for HIPAA-covered entities that utilize cloud computing in processing electronic protected health information (ePHI). The...more

Health Care System’s HIPAA Security Risk Results in $2.14 Million Fine

On October 18, 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office for Civil Rights (OCR), announced that St. Joseph Health (SJH) agreed to settle allegations relating to the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules,...more

Clouds, With A Nearly 100% Chance of a Business Associate Agreement

HHS recently posted guidance on its website addressing HIPAA’s approach to cloud computing. Basically, any time a cloud service provider has electronic protected health information (ePHI), it’s a business associate. This is...more

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