OCR Releases HIPAA Compliance Training Tool As Enforcement Risks Rise

Along with its stepped up enforcement and new audit programs, the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Office of Civil Rights (OCR) is working to promote and encourage better voluntary compliance by physician and other health care providers by releasing a new interactive security and privacy training game to help educate healthcare providers and their staffs to make more informed decisions regarding privacy and security of health information. Using a game format, the game asks users to respond to privacy and security challenges often faced in a typical medical practice. 

With the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Civil Rights (OCR) stepping up enforcement and sanctions  for health care providers, health plans, health care providers and their businesses associates (covered entities) that violate the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy, Security and Breach Notification Rules and OCR now auditing HIPAA compliance, covered entities should self-audit within the scope of attorney-client privilege and tighten as necessary existing policies, practices and documentation to comply with evolving requirements of HIPAA and other laws requiring the protection of protected health information (PHI), personal financial information and sensitive data. 

As the HIPAA Privacy, Security and Breach Rules include mandates that covered entities train members of their workforce, the new game could be a helpful component for health care providers as part of their organization’s training efforts.

The mounting list of settlement agreements – most of which have required settlement payments of more than $1 million – that OCR has announced show the  growing exposures that covered entities face when violating HIPAA. See HIPAA Heats Up: HITECH Act Changes Take Effect & OCR Begins Posting Names, Other Details Of Unsecured PHI Breach Reports On WebsiteThese settlements and sanctions prove the importance of covered entities strengthening their HIPAA compliance and adopting other suitable safeguards to keep up HIPAA compliance and minimize HIPAA and other exposures that can arise if PHI, personal financial information and other sensitive data.  For tips, see here.

For Help With Monitoring Developments, Compliance, Investigations Or Other Needs

If you need help monitoring federal health reform, policy or enforcement developments, or to review or respond to these or other health care or health IT related risk management, compliance, enforcement or management concerns, the author of this update, attorney Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, can help.  Vice President of the North Texas Health Care Compliance Professionals Association, Past Chair of the ABA Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Section and the former Board Compliance Chair of the National Kidney Foundation of North Texas, Ms. Stamer has more than 24 years experience advising health industry clients about these and other matters. Ms. Stamer has extensive experience advising and assisting health care providers, health plans, their business associates and other health industry clients to establish and administer medical privacy and other compliance and risk management policies, to health care industry investigation, enforcement and other compliance, public policy, regulatory, staffing, and other operations and risk management concerns. She regularly designs and presents HIPAA and other risk management, compliance and other training for health plans, employers, health care providers, professional associations and others.   

Ms. Stamer also regularly works with OCR and other agencies, publishes and speaks extensively on medical and other privacy and data security, health and managed care industry regulatory, staffing and human resources, compensation and benefits, technology, public policy, reimbursement and other operations and risk management concerns.  Her publications and insights appear in the Health Care Compliance Association, Atlantic Information Service, Bureau of National Affairs, World At Work, The Wall Street Journal, Business Insurance, the Dallas Morning News, Modern Health Care, Managed Healthcare, Health Leaders, and a many other national and local publications.   For instance, Ms. Stamer for the second year will serve as the appointed scribe for the ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits Agency meeting with OCR.  Her insights on HIPAA risk management and compliance frequently appear in medical privacy related publications of a broad range of health care, health plan and other industry publications Among others, she has conducted privacy training for the Association of State & Territorial Health Plans (ASTHO), the Los Angeles Health Department, the American Bar Association, the Health Care Compliance Association, a multitude of health industry, health plan, insurance and financial services, education, employer employee benefit and other clients, trade and professional associations and others.

You can get more information about her HIPAA and other experience here.

Other Recent Updates & Resources

If you found this information of interest, you also may be interested in the following recent updates on health care, health plan and employee benefits, human resources and other risk management and compliance matters.  Recent examples on health care compliance and risk management matters include:

For additional resources and publications training materials by Ms. Stamer, see here.  

If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns, please be sure that we have your current contact information – including your preferred e-mail – by creating or updating your profile here. For important information concerning this communication click here.  If you do not wish to receive these updates in the future, send an e-mail with the word “Remove” in the Subject to here.

©2012 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, P.C. nonexclusive license to republish granted to Solutions Law Press, Inc.  All other rights reserved.


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