Most healthcare organizations today have a compliance program, but how many can say the program is effective and more importantly feel confident they could demonstrate effectiveness? It is not uncommon to hear, “I cannot define effectiveness but I know it when I see it.” Why is this important? All compliance professionals know having a paper compliance program (compliance plan that sits on the shelf along with well drafted but not implemented policies and procedures) is not effective. But as one assesses what an organization is doing as it relates to the seven elements of an effective compliance program based on the Federal Sentencing Guidelines and all the various OIG compliance program guidance documents, the process gets more convoluted. How much is enough, and do you just want to do “the bare minimum”?
There are plenty of reasons to conduct a pen test, or red team assessment, on your organization’s technical environment. Today’s typical enterprise network is no longer an enclosed and controlled environment, like it may have been just a few years ago. A penetration test is a good opportunity to begin with a clean state as well as prioritize issues and fixes. These assessments also provide a very powerful wake-up call to executive leadership that may have been pushing these types of changes off to reduce costs.
Covered entities deal with many complex privacy and information security issues, but institutions that conduct research have an additional level of complexity. Key to understanding the implications of privacy obligations in research is understanding the multiple regulations that could apply to human subject research.
It is said that the only two certainties in life are death and taxes. If you are a HIPAA covered entity, you can add reporting breaches of unsecured protected health information (PHI) to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office for Civil Rights (OCR). For breaches involving less than 500 individuals, the Breach Notification Rule requires a covered entity to submit information to HHS at least annually through OCR’s breach reporting portal on the HHS website.
On February 1, 2017, OCR announced that it levied a $3.2 million civil money penalty against Children’s Medical Center of Dallas (Children’s). The enforcement action ends a nearly six-year long investigation into Children’s health information privacy and security practices.
2017 is here, and, like any new year, promises both opportunities and challenges. The question is, what will we do with it? Will it be a year of great progress, one of marking time, or worse yet one of falling further behind? Meeting the cybersecurity challenges of the future is a job for leaders. There should be no doubt that healthcare institutions are under attack on a regular basis now from external threats, while continuing to face the insidious abuse of insiders. As the old saying goes, “they have it coming and going.”
If you are reading this blog post, you have survived 2016. By most accounts, it was a rough year in regards to the state of security in healthcare. Cyber attacks have been no exception to this calculation. We saw the announcements of some of the biggest breaches in history, the continued proliferation of ransomware, and even the recent reports that Russia was meddling in U.S. politics through attacks on IT security.
OCR recently published its January Cyber Awareness Newsletter that provides guidance on how organizations should comply with the audit controls standard. The HIPAA Security Rule (45 CFR 164.312(b)) requires a covered entity or business associate is required to implement hardware, software, and/or procedural mechanisms that record and examine activity in electronic information systems that contain or use electronic protected health information.
There is no denying that 2016 was the year of determining how to respond to healthcare privacy and security threats. Top headlines included everything from ransomware disrupting hospitals’ ability to care for patients, to negligent insiders’ actions compromising patient information, to business associates not securing its customers’ sensitive data. Throughout the year CynergisTek’s subject matter experts wrote several blog posts to address the latest headlines, incidents, threats and regulatory actions in healthcare. Below are some of our top blog posts and the most popular infographic we published.
2016 was a very busy year for healthcare IT professionals. Cyberattacks targeted at provider organizations proved that they have the capability to disrupt operations for prolonged periods of time. These attacks not only cost money to the institutions affected, but also disrupted their ability to treat and serve patients. OCR issued nearly $30M in fines during 2016 and kicked off the next round of HIPAA compliance audits for both covered entities and business associates. To help address these challenges, CynergisTek hosted 27 HIPAA Privacy and Security Workshops in various cities throughout the country.