New technologies in healthcare means new risk to the security and privacy of patient health data. Though most healthcare companies and providers are aware of the need for internal data security, many may not be in compliance when sharing information with third parties. As providers and vendors find new and innovative ways to work together, the need for data sharing will only increase. It is critically important that all parties know when and how protected health information (PHI) is shared, and when patient authorization is required to do so.
Nixon Law Group Managing Partner, Carrie Nixon, was interviewed by Randy Wong, M.D. for an episode of the Healthcare's Prescription with Russ & Randy podcast. During the episode, Carrie discusses privacy protections for medical practice websites.
There is still time to protect your company or practice. In preparation for potential OCR audits, health care providers and health technology companies should conduct an internal audit of their compliance with State and Federal privacy and security rules, including HIPAA, and begin to address any shortfalls. OCR's increased budget and strategic plans related to HIPAA enforcement should remind the healthcare community of the growing commitment of the Federal Government to strictly enforce its privacy and security protections. Contact your healthcare attorney for advice on how to address your compliance posture.
On February 5, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Sylvia Burwell, announced a proposed rule that would update privacy rules regarding substance abuse records--for the first time since 1987. This proposed rule has the potential to ease barriers to streamlined and efficient exchange of patient information across the care spectrum.
On January 6, 2016, in a dramatic national press conference, President Obama announced several actions by his administration to address gun violence in the US. One of these actions is a long-planned modification to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The same day, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published a Final Rule adding a permitted disclosure to the HIPAA Privacy Rule, which expressly permits a limited number of Covered Entities to disclose protected health information (PHI) of certain individuals to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The modification is aimed at removing one barrier to expanding the quality of the information in NICS, which is used by firearms vendors to disqualify potential purchasers who are federally barred from owning firearms.