Protected Health Information Office of Civil Rights

News & Analysis as of

UMass Amherst Settles HIPAA Violations with OCR for $650,000

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has announced that the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass) has agreed to settle an investigation against it as a result of a malware infection for $650,000, along with implementing a...more

HHS Issues Warning About Phishing Campaign Disguised As Official Communication

As part of its efforts to assess compliance with the HIPAA Privacy, Security and Breach Notification Rules, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) engages in audits of covered...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

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

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

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

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

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

St. Joseph Health Settles with OCR for $2.14 Million

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has announced that it has entered into a settlement with St. Joseph Health, which operates hospitals and nursing homes in California, Texas and New Mexico, for $2.14 million for alleged HIPAA...more

HHS-OCR Announces Guidance On HIPAA Compliance And Cloud Computing

On October 6, 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) issued guidance on complying with HIPAA privacy, security, and breach notification rules when using cloud computing technology...more

HHS Publishes Guidance on HIPAA and Cloud Computing

On October 7, 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) published guidance to assist cloud service providers (CSPs) and their customers with HIPAA compliance. As discussed below,...more

OCR Issues Guidance on HIPAA and Cloud Computing

On October 7, 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”), Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”), released a guidance document (the “Guidance”) on the HIPAA-compliant use of cloud computing technologies. The...more

The Cloud Grounded: Cloud Hosts Are Business Associates Under HIPAA Security Rule

The Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued long-anticipated guidance to help covered entities and their business associates — including cloud service providers (CSPs) — comply with the...more

OCR Releases HIPAA Guidance on Cloud Computing

On October 6, 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released HIPAA guidance on cloud computing (Guidance). The Guidance is intended to help covered entities and business associates...more

HHS Issues Cloud Computing Guidance Which Is Helpful To All Users of Cloud Services

Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) provided guidance for HIPAA covered entities and business associates that use or want to use cloud computing services involving protected...more

Blog: GAO Criticizes HHS In Health Information Cybersecurity Report

On Monday, the Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) released a report (the “Report”) criticizing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) security and privacy guidance and oversight in protecting...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

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