HIPAA investigations to include breaches fewer that 500 patient records

 

By Aris Medical Solutions

HIPAA investigation

The Office for Civil Rights announced in August they would be working with their Regional Offices to more widely investigate the causes of breaches that affects less than 500 patient records. The Regional Offices will use their own discretion to prioritize which breaches to investigate.

Some of the factors they will be considering include:

  1. The number of records affected
  2. Intrusions of the IT systems
  3. The sensitivity of the data
  4. Whether the data was unencrypted or disposed of improperly
  5. Number of breaches from the same entity including business associates
  6. The lack of reported breaches when comparing similar situations with specific covered entities and business associates

Here are some helpful tips to avoid data breaches:

  • Confirm fax numbers and email address BEFORE sending.
  • Do not permit ANYONE access to your systems without confirming their identity and verifying they are still employed with that particular company.
  • Do not click on links in emails, instead, open your browser and go to the website.
  • Make sure all accesses to ePHI utilizes strong passwords, preferably passphrases.
  • Change your passwords/phrases at least every 90 days. This includes your EHR, PM software, workstation operating system, and email access.
  • If a two-step authentication is available, make sure it is engaged.
  • Use encryption whenever possible, depending on the operating system you use, it may be FREE!
  • Request a network security audit to be performed that includes remediation.
  • Do not retain records longer than necessary, why have that exposure if it is not required!
  • Make sure everyone involved with Patient Data is HIPAA Compliant.

As we mentioned last month, enforcement of HIPAA is here and you must ensure that if you are audited or investigated you have all of the appropriate documentation in place. Remember… if it is not documented, it doesn’t exist!

If you are one of the many organizations that simply do not have the time to do this, you are not alone. We offer a full range of services from a Do-It-Yourself HIPAA program to a Full HIPAA Implementation package. Call Aris at 877.659.2467 or click here to schedule a demo.

HIPAA Enforcement is HERE!

 

By Aris Medical Solutions

I am sure you have seen the recent HIPAA fines from the Office for Civil Rights (OCR). HIPAA enforcement is like never before and the fines are fierce. We knew this day would come and it has.

We are encouraging all medical practices and business associates to make sure you have all of your HIPAA compliance policies, procedures, and documentation implemented. When you are audited is not the time to discover you forgot something. The OCR is not being very kind.

When you are reviewing your HIPAA policies and procedures and deciding whether or not to implement the “Addressable” standards, be careful. Addressable is NOT optional; you must have reasonable and appropriate safeguards in place. Since there is not enough case law on record, this is a gray area. Just be careful you do not fall into the big black hole! Also, do not skip over any “Required” standards. These are required no matter what size your organization is.

We are seeing fines like $750K for neglecting to have a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) in place before data was released and a $650K fine for a lost IPhone that was not encrypted. Make sure you not only have BAAs in place but the business associate is in fact HIPAA compliant. This the responsibility of each practice. HIPAA enforcement is here and it is not going away anytime soon.

If you are one of the many organizations that simply do not have the time to do this, you are not alone. We offer a full range of services from a Do-It-Yourself HIPAA program to a Full HIPAA Implementation package. Call Aris at 877.659.2467 or click here to schedule a demo.

“Protecting Organizations through Partnership, Education, and Support”

Storing Patient Records

 

By Aris Medical Solutions

 

Since most medical practices are going electronic, it may be time to free up some of that precious space in your office. Make sure when, how, and where you decided to store your data is secure.

Some practices move excess patient charts to a self storage unit. It’s cheap and if you have an patient chart inventory list you should be safe… right?
What happens if the facility burns down?
What if someone breaks in and it is not discovered for months?
What if you don’t have an inventory list of which records are in there?

  • Did you know that PHI is considered PHI until after a person has been deceased for 50 years! That means even if the person isn’t alive, it is still a reportable breach!
  • Did you know that if you can’t determine if ANY records or WHICH records were stolen, you would have to report all of them.

Self storage units may sound like a good deal. That good deal could cost you more in the end. If the unit burns or if it is vandalized, you could be charged for wilful neglect for NOT securing the records. Not to mention, you may be required to report this as a data breach and cost you nearly $350.00 per record! Are you willing to accept that risk? After all, the OCR doesn’t specifically state what is or is not HIPAA compliant. If you suffer a data breach, THEN they will determine if you had reasonable and appropriate safeguards in place.

Now I will ask you.. Wouldn’t it make sense to spend about the same amount of money and have a professional company store your records? That’s right; for about $50.00 per month you can store approximately 100 boxes of records! Of course pricing will depends on your location and how many you need to store. When organizing the records, we suggest by year and alphabetize them. This makes it much easier when the time comes to destroy them!

If you need assistance with a Risk Analysis, Risk Management Plan, or implementing a full set of HIPAA Policies and Procedures, call Aris at 877.659.2467 or click here to schedule a demo. We offer a full range of services from a Do-It-Yourself HIPAA program to a Full HIPAA Implementation package.

“Protecting Organizations through Partnership, Education, and Support”

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