The Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS-OCR) had a record-breaking year in 2018 with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) enforcement activity.  HHS-OCR entered into 10 settlements and received summary judgment in a case before an Administrative Law Judge, totaling nearly $28.7 million in enforcement actions. According to the HHS-OCR Director, Roger Severino, this record year underscores the need for covered entities to be proactive about their HIPAA data security.

Here are three overarching themes from HHS-OCR’s 2018 HIPAA enforcement activity for HIPAA Covered Entities to consider:

  1. Several settlements indicate failures to obtain written business associate agreements from business associates that maintain protected health information (PHI) and electronic protected health information (ePHI) on behalf of Covered Entities.
  2. HHS-OCR is citing failures to conduct thorough risk analyses of potential risks and vulnerabilities to Covered Entities’ ePHI.
  3. PHI disclosures to the media are thoroughly assessed for compliance with the HIPAA exception.

If you have any questions about any of these HHS-OCR enforcement actions or would like to discuss HIPAA compliance more generally, please reach out to any member of the Drinker Biddle Health Care Group.