Personal Health Information and the Department of Health and Human Services

How safe is your personal health information?  Two studies by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) point out perceived deficiencies in the way Americans’ health information is protected and secured under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).  The reports, made public in October 2015, target the audit process and lay out plans to revamp the audit program in early 2016.

Protected health information (PHI) includes a patient’s name, age, gender, prognosis, and payment for treatment.  This information, whether communicated orally, electronically, or in written form, when handled by health care providers, [...]


Data Breaches Cost US Hospitals $6 Billion Annually

The 2010 Benchmark Study on Patient Privacy and Data Security, conducted by the Ponemon Institute. The study revealed that data breaches were costing hospitals across the US up to $6 billion each year. Breaches of patient information are largely undetected by the organization, due to lack of priority, resources, preparation and staffing for privacy and security [...]


HIPAA Enforcement: CVS Case Example

While understanding privacy law and how it should be implemented is important, it is equally important to know how such laws are enforced and investigated by the U.S. Government. The following case explains the corrective action the Office for Civil Rights under the Department of Health and Human Services was forced to take ensure compliance of a covered entity that had significantly and repeatedly violated the Privacy Rule of HIPAA.

Following reports of improper disposal of personal health information (PHI) the OCR launched an investigation into the information practices of CVS Entities in September 2007. Their review found the following:

Between [...]


HIPAA Enforcement Process

The Health Insurance Portability and Privacy Act was passed in 2003. Since then HIPAA has become one of the most consistently enforced privacy laws to date. Enforcement falls largely to the Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Civil [...]