HIPAA

Onsite Health Diagnostics suffers data breach

August 4th, 2014

Onsite Health Diagnostics (OHD), a Tennessee government subcontractor, suffered data breach when its scheduler was accessed inappropriately. OHD has notified the affected local government employees about the breach. According to the reports, online scheduler was accessed by unknown entity.

Around 60,582 employees’ data, such as name, date of birth, address, email address, phone number and gender was accessed. Information related to financial information, Social Security numbers or medical data was not included in the breach.

According to the OHD statements:

OHD and investigating authorities are unaware of any identity theft related to this incident, but out of an abundance of caution, OHD has mailed letters to the affected health plan members to ensure that they are aware of the incident and can take steps to protect their information. OHD will provide one free year of identity theft protection to affected group health plan members.

While this information did not contain any diagnosis or medical information, the state has determined that, because it is related to our members’ health benefits, the disclosure of name, address, email address, phone number and gender does fall under the HIPAA definition of a breach of protected health information. The state has notified the Secretary of HHS of a Breach of Unsecured PHI.

After the breach, OHD has collaborated with experts to determine the flaws in the system. It was also observed that OHD had implemented new procedures and systems for more secure operations.

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Unique case where concerned entity didn’t violate HIPAA regulations

March 30th, 2014

 

Major task of HIPAA is to keep track on data breaches and government penalties for compliance failure. It covers entities that handle patient data in some form. Incident involved Monroeville, Pa. when its 911 dispatch centre from five fire stations gave easy access for patient medical records to unauthorized users. Information which was accessible included names, driver’s license numbers, birth dates and medical histories.

Monroeville is a community of about 28,000 with a vibrant business corridor, a convention center and two busy hospitals. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was covering this incident for last two years and found that Monroeville, Pa didn’t breached HIPAA regulations. Investigation was carried out by Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

HHS learned that municipality failed to maintain the database properly and soon after the discovery of the breach unauthorized access was terminated. According to Office for Civil Rights, ‘Monroeville, its dispatch center, police department or fire department are all not covered under the provisions of the privacy law, which mainly related to health care providers and insurers.’

Two Monroeville council members said they were pleased by the government’s findings. Tom Wilson said, “I was happy that they didn’t find any violations, and the folks that were falsely accused, that took the brunt of the accusations, were completely exonerated.”

Linda Gaydos said,” “I am absolutely overjoyed for the employees of our police department, our dispatch center, our EMS and our fire departments and their families, to have this put behind them,” She added, “We had a group of people in Monroeville that worked against Monroeville, and they smoke-screened and they tried to keep stirring the pot and they tried to scare people and make it worse. They’ve made it a very, very bad, uncomfortable situation for a lot of people, and I’m hoping this will put an end to it.”

Municipal Manager Timothy Little said, “I think it lifts a cloud off of Monroeville, and specifically the public safety aspect of the municipality, that there wasn’t any wrongdoing with respect to [health privacy law] violations,”

Organizations, especially corporate giants, have to have an information security policy in place that proves they have taken necessary steps and measures to safeguard the information they gathered. If these policies are not adhered to, the regulators may prosecute.

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HIMSS Privacy and Security director discusses ‘Hidden Pitfalls with Cloud, Mobile Technology and Mobile Data’ at HIMSS14

February 24th, 2014

 

Lee Kim will review practices of healthcare organization examining vendor contracts, such as business associate agreements (BAAs) with cloud vendors maintaining HIPAA compliance. Kim assists HIMSS with government relations, federal affairs, and state affairs in terms of evaluating privacy and security laws and regulations.

 

She believes that organizations have been doing risk assessments to find holes in their information systems.
They’re definitely going through risk assessments for their systems and I’m predicting that organizations, including providers will be more focused on risk remediation. Its one thing to assess risk, determining high-level vulnerabilities, but the real value you get out of a risk assessment is what you do about it and take action. Providers can do this by actually mitigating those risks both inside and outside of their organizations.
Kim believes that there must be strong program to have processes in place. Kim mentioned that health industry is unique as it’s trusted with patient information and can affect patients’ lives.
Ensuring the patient information is both private as well as secure is certainly paramount. Not only do organizations need to comply with HIPAA, they need to have a holistic approach to keeping bad actors away from patient data. Unfortunately, these bad actors can be inside or outside an organization. Or it may even be an individual who doesn’t have bad intent but is exceeding the scope of their authorized access and cause a breach out of negligence.
Kim also stated that there are many cloud users who are not completely aware of it.
In terms of where we’re going with information technology, it just seems as though there’s more of a dependence on cloud-based solutions. For example, a provider may contract with a cloud provider or use a hosted EHR solution. More health IT stakeholders are seeking these outsourced solutions such as cloud.
Organizations, especially corporate giants, have to have an information security policy in place that proves they have taken necessary steps and measures to safeguard the information they gathered. If these policies are not adhered to, the regulators may prosecute.

Alertsec Xpress is used by organizations that have recognized the need to protect their information. Customers range from single-user sole traders and consultants to multinational companies with a large number of offices around the globe. Over 4 million users worldwide use Alertsec Xpress’s Check Point Full Disk Encryption.

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