All posts in Training: HIPAA

Lessons from 2016, the Biggest HIPAA Enforcement Year on Record

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

HIPAA Enforcement

Time to call the Guinness Book of World Records because HHS has set a new world record in HIPAA enforcement.  2016 saw a considerable increase in HIPAA enforcement resolution agreements and monetary penalties.  At the end of 2016, the OCR logged over $20 million in fines for HIPAA violations from 15 enforcement actions with monetary penalties — a stark contrast to 2015 penalties which were just over $6 million from just 6 resolution agreements.

The per entity fines have increased as well increasing from about $850K in recent years to $2 million in 2016.

Also, in late 2015, the Office of the Inspector General released findings of a study that recommended a stronger enforcement and follow-up from the OCR for HIPAA violations:

Continue Reading

HIPAA Cartoon on Snooping

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

This cartoon is about snooping, one of the most common HIPAA violations.  HIPAA prohibits accessing information that people don’t need to do their jobs.   It can be easy to look at electronic medical records, and people who snoop in this way might not perceive it as wrong.  But the cartoon invites people to imagine how creepy the snooping would appear if it were occurring right in front of patients.  Computers remove the interpersonal dynamic, making it harder for people to fully appreciate the wrongfulness of their conduct.

Though the high-profile, celebrity snooping incidents garner all the media attention, smaller cases affecting everyday individuals make up the bulk of the cases and legal activity.  A large number of inappropriate access claims involve people checking on protected health information (PHI) about family and friends.  Snooping is not intended maliciously.  Often a concerned staff member will access the patient records of a family member or acquaintance out of worry or concern.  In one case, a nurse in New York was fired for disclosing a patient’s medical history to warn a family member who was romantically involved with the patient of the patient’s STD.

Continue Reading

HIPAA Cartoon on Social Media Use

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

HIPAA Cartoon Social Media

Here’s a cartoon on HIPAA and social media use to jump start your week.  You can’t think enough about HIPAA these days.  HIPAA audits are back, and OCR is having a vigorous enforcement year this year, something I plan to post about soon.

Continue Reading

HIPAA Cartoon on HIPAA’s Jargon

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

HIPAA Cartoon - TeachPrivacy HIPAA Training

HIPAA is famously impenetrable, with so many special terms and definitions.  I wrote this cartoon to capture the wonderful world of HIPAA jargon, which I hope fellow lovers of HIPAA can appreciate.

AHIMA LogoFor those who want an introduction to HIPAA and how the Privacy Rule and the Security Rule work, I produced a series of courses on HIPAA for the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). Each course is approximately 1 hour long.  The courses are:

• HIPAA Privacy: The Pillars of a Privacy Program
• HIPAA Privacy: Rights and Responsibilities
• HIPAA Security: Safeguarding PHI

They are available through AHIMA, but you can preview them on my site here.

HIPAA Courses - AHIMAThese AHIMA HIPAA courses are not for the entire workforce — the courses are for personnel who focus on HIPAA compliance and need to understand the basics of how HIPAA works.  My HIPAA training for the workforce is shorter as well as more basic and general.

I have another HIPAA cartoon here.

Continue Reading

HIPAA’s Failure to Provide Enough Patient Control Over Medical Records

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

HIPAA Privacy Rule

 

A Not-So-Far-Fetched Seinfeld Episode

In a Seinfeld episode called “The Package” from 1996 (click here to see the scene), airing just months after HIPAA was passed,  Elaine goes to see a doctor for a rash.

Continue Reading

HIPAA Cartoon – HIPAA Compliance Program

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

HIPAA Training - Cartoon HIPAA Compliance

Recently, HIPAA celebrated its 20th birthday.  HHS issued a celebratory blog post.  HIPAA is 20 years old if you start counting from the date the statute was passed (1996).  If we measure HIPAA’s age from the date that the HIPAA Privacy Rule became effective (2003), then HIPAA is 13.

So HIPAA could be 20 years old, eager to become 21 and be able to drink (right now, it just makes people want to drink) or 13 years old and about to begin being an unruly teenager.

A few years ago, I published an article in the Journal of AHIMA to celebrate HIPAA’s 10th birthday (counting from when the Privacy Rule became effective).  The article discusses HIPAA’s growth and impact, and is a quick read if you’re interested.  You can download it for free here:

HIPAA Turns 10: Analyzing the Past, Present, and Future Impact
84 Journal of AHIMA 22 (April 2013)

Continue Reading

Is a Ransomware Attack a HIPAA Data Breach?

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

Ransomware - Security Awareness Training

As ransomware escalates and poses serious security risks for healthcare institutions, many privacy experts and legislators have called for more specific guidance from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

A few weeks ago, HHS responded to these calls with a detailed fact sheet to explain ransomware and provide advice.  Although most of the document outlines what should be obvious for an organization that already has a solid data security plan (including reliable back-ups, workforce training, and contingency plans), the major headline is HHS’s verdict on whether or not a ransomware attack qualifies as a data breach under HIPAA.

Continue Reading

HIPAA’s Long Arm — and Why It’s a Good Thing

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

HIPAA Training

Recently, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued its first resolution agreement and monetary penalty against a business associate (BA).

Continue Reading

6 Reasons to Visit the TeachPrivacy Booth at the IAPP Summit 2016

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

TeachPrivacy privacy and security awareness training 03 IAPP

Please stop by the TeachPrivacy booth at the expo at the IAPP Summit.

 

1. Play our new game. 

See if you can spot all the privacy and data security risks in this scene.  Pick up a copy of the scene, see our poster, and try out our interactive module.

Continue Reading

New Privacy and Security Awareness Training Programs

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

security awareness training

I created some new training programs last year, and here are some of the highlights:

Security Training Malware -- Ransomware Attack

The Ransomware Attack (~5 mins)

This short program (~5 minutes) consists of an interactive cartoon vignette about malware.  The program is highly interactive, and trainees engage with a scenario involving ransomware. Although this program involves ransomware, the lessons it teaches apply broadly to all malware.  The program focuses on how to avoid having malware installed on one’s computer and what to do (and not to do) if this ever happens.

Module Lifecycle of Personal Data 01

The Life Cycle of Personal Data (~ 15 mins)

This privacy awareness training course (~ 15 minutes) is a highly-interactive overview of privacy responsibilities and protections regarding the collection, use, and sharing of personal data.  The course has 8 quiz questions. The course tracks the life cycle of personal data, starting from when it is collected or created. The course concludes with a discussion of data retention and destruction.

Continue Reading

3 Types of Incidents Account for 86% of HIPAA Data Breaches

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

HIPAA Data BreachA new report by Verizon, the PHI Data Breach report, analyzes 1,931 data breaches of protected health information (PHI) under HIPAA,  The incidents occurred between 1994 and 2014, with most occurring from 2004-2014.  An article from Computer World sums up the findings of the report.

Verizon 2016 Healthcare ReportOne interesting statistic is that 392 million PHI records were compromised in these breaches, more than the entire population of the United States.

The report notes that 3 types of incident account for 86% of the data breaches:

(1) Lost or stolen portable electronic devices

(2) Sending records to the wrong individual

(3) Improper access to PHI by employees

What do these things have in common?

These are problems that deal with the human factor.  The problems are preventable, and the risk of them can be significantly reduced through training.

To train on these things, organizations must do more then merely say: “Be careful” or “Do not do.”  The training must have an impact on people.  And education is most effective with repetition. People must be repeatedly educated, over and over again.

Continue Reading

Is HIPAA Enforcement Too Lax?

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

title

By Daniel J. Solove

ProPublica has been running a series of lengthy articles about HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) enforcement that are worth reading.

A Sustained and Vigorous Critique of OCR HIPAA Enforcement

A ProPublica article from early in 2015 noted that HIPAA fines were quite rare. The article noted that from 2009 through 2014, more than 1,140 large data breaches were reported to OCR, affecting 41 million people. Another 120,000 HIPAA violations were reported affecting fewer than 500 people. “Yet, over that time span,” the article notes, “the Office for Civil Rights has fined health care organizations just 22 times. . . . By comparison, the California Department of Public Health . . . imposed 22 penalties last year alone.”

Continue Reading

The Value of HIPAA Training

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

HIPAA Training

HIPAA expert Rebecca Herold offers a very compelling explanation of the value of HIPAA training.  She writes:

Information security and privacy education is more important than ever because new gadgets and technologies enable more healthcare workers to collect and share data.

In September 2015, Cancer Care Group agreed to settle HIPAA violations by paying a $750,000 fine and adopting a “robust corrective action plan to correct deficiencies in its HIPAA compliance program.” One of the major requirements for Cancer Care Group was to review and revise its training program, because the breach was caused by an easily preventable employee action (leaving a laptop with clear text files of 55,000 patients in an unsecured car).

Training needs to be more than once a year, and as soon as, or prior to, the start of employment. There also need to be ongoing awareness communications and activities, as required by HIPAA.

Every organization of every size needs to invest some time and resources into regular training and ongoing awareness communications. Besides being a wise business decision, it’s also a requirement in most data protection laws and regulations to provide such education.

To this, all I can say is: Amen.

Rebecca is the author of several great resources on HIPAA, including The Practical Guide to HIPAA Privacy and Security Compliance.

Rebecca Herold Practical Guide to HIPAA

Continue Reading

Blogging Highlights 2015: Health Privacy+Security Issues

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

HIPAA Training

I’ve been going through my blog posts from 2015 to find the ones I most want to highlight.  Here are some selected posts about health privacy and security:

Why HIPAA Matters: Medical ID Theft and the
Human Cost of Health Privacy and Security Incidents

care

Continue Reading

Lessons from the Latest HIPAA Enforcement Action

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

HIPAA Training OCR Enforcementby Daniel J. Solove

Recently, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) publicized its resolution agreement in its HIPAA enforcement action against St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center (SEMC).  SEMC agreed to pay $218,000.

The case began with a complaint filed with OCR back in 2012 that employees were sharing PHI of nearly 500 patients via an online sharing application without a risk analysis on such activities being undertaken.  OCR investigation found that the medical center “failed to timely identify and respond to the known security incident, mitigate the harmful effects of the security incident and document the security incident and its outcome.”

Continue Reading

Patient Access to Medical Records Under HIPAA: Significant Reform Needed

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

Doctor taking notes in his office, isolated

by Daniel J. Solove

Recently, I wrote about the challenges in accessing health information about family members.  In this post, I will explore patients’ access to their own medical records.

HIPAA doesn’t handle patient access to medical records very well. There are many misunderstandings about patient access under HIPAA that make it quite difficult for patients to obtain their medical information quickly and conveniently.

Getting records is currently like a scavenger hunt. Patients have to call and call again, wait seemingly forever to get records, and receive them via ancient means like mail and fax. I often scratch my head at why fax is still used today — it’s one step more advanced than carrier pigeon.

Continue Reading

HIPAA’s Friends and Family Network: Access to Health Information

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

HIPAA Training Blog Sharing PHI with Friends and Family 02

by Daniel J. Solove

Suppose your elderly mother is being treated at the hospital for a heart condition. Your mother tells her doctor that you can have access to her health information. The doctor, however, doesn’t disclose the information to you.

The doctor thinks that you can only have the information with a signed written authorization. Is this correct?

No. HIPAA doesn’t require a signed or even a written authorization. If a patient tells a doctor that protected health information (PHI) can be shared with family or friends, then that’s all that is needed. The doctor can disclose it to you.

So has the doctor violated HIPAA by refusing to disclose the PHI?

Continue Reading

New Resource Page: HIPAA Training Requirements FAQ

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

HIPAA Training Requirements Whiteboard 02

by Daniel J. Solove

I recently created a new resource page for the TeachPrivacy website: HIPAA Training Requirements: FAQ.

Continue Reading

The Importance and Goals of HIPAA Training Programs

Founder of TeachPrivacy

HIPAA Training

by Daniel J. Solove

There is a great quote in this article from HealthcareInfoSecurity: that expresses very well the importance and goals of HIPAA training programs:

Workforce training is important not only for preventing breaches, including those involving ID crimes, but also to help detect those incidents, [Ann Patterson of the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance] says. “Each employee must understand their role in protecting PHI. Equally important is regular and continued evaluation of the training programs to make sure that employees are adhering to the policies put in place, and that the ‘red flags’ detection systems are keeping pace with changing technologies and workplace practices.”

Continue Reading

New Resource Page: Text of HIPAA’s Training Requirements

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

HIPAA Training Requirements Text 01

by Daniel J. Solove

I recently created a new resource page for the TeachPrivacy website: Text of HIPAA’s Training Requirements.  This page provides excerpts of the training provisions in the HIPAA Privacy Rule and the HIPAA Security Rule.

This page is designed to be a useful companion page to our resource page, HIPAA Training Requirements: FAQ.  The FAQ discuss my interpretation of the HIPAA training provisions, but the full text of those provisions is located on the separate new resource page above.

Continue Reading

New Resource Page: Privacy and Security Training Requirements

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

Privacy and Security Training Requirements 02

by Daniel J. Solove

I have created a new resource page for the TeachPrivacy website:  Privacy and Security Training Requirements.

Continue Reading

The Health Data Breach and ID Theft Epidemic

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

Title image

By Daniel J. Solove

When you go to the hospital, you might worry about catching a staph infection or pneumonia, but you should also worry about contracting a nasty case of medical identity theft. Most people suffer significant harm from medical ID theft, and few are completely cured. This ailment is spreading dramatically as data spurts out of healthcare organizations these days as if from a ruptured aorta.

In January of this year, an article citing U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) statistics noted that in the past 5 years, there have been roughly 120,000 reported data breaches involving HIPAA protected health information. These breaches have involved more than 31 million individuals.

Continue Reading

The $500,000 Value of Data Security Awareness Training

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

data security awareness training

by Daniel J. Solove

It has long been difficult to quantify the ROI of data security awareness training.

But finally, I have been able to locate a number. According to a 2014 PricewaterhouseCoopers study: “The financial value of employee awareness is even more compelling. Organizations that do not have security awareness programs—in particular, training for new employees—report significantly higher average financial losses from cybersecurity incidents. Companies without security training for new hires reported average annual financial losses of $683,000, while those do have training said their average financial losses totaled $162,000.”

Continue Reading

The Most Alarming Fact of the HIPAA Audits

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

hipaa audits 1

law blog 2

by Daniel J. Solove

Are privacy and security laws being enforced effectively? This post is post #5 of a series called Enforcing Privacy and Security Laws.

Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), various organizations can be randomly selected to be audited – even if no complaint has been issued against them and even if there has been no privacy incident or breach.

What the audits thus far have revealed is quite alarming. I’ll discuss more on that later.

Continue Reading

The Brave New World of HIPAA Enforcement

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

hipaa enforcement

law blog 2

by Daniel J. Solove

Are privacy and security laws being enforced effectively? This post is post #4 of a series called Enforcing Privacy and Security Laws.

hhs logoThe Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations govern health information maintained by various entities covered by HIPAA (“covered entities”) and other organizations that receive health information from covered entities when performing functions for them. HIPAA is enforced by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Additionally, state attorneys general (AGs) may enforce HIPAA – only a few federal privacy laws can also be enforced by state AGs.

Continue Reading

The Best Preventative Medicine for Health Data Breaches

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

data breach 1

by Daniel J. Solove

Last week, I gave a keynote address at a conference called Safeguarding Health Information: Building Assurance through HIPAA Security, sponsored by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office for Civil Rights (OCR). I’d like to summarize my remarks here for anyone interested who wasn’t able to attend.

Continue Reading

Does Training Really Work? Can It Reduce Data Security Breaches?

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

does training work 1

by Daniel J. Solove

According to a recent report by Enterprise Management Associates, 56% of employees are not receiving any sort of data security awareness training.

This is a rather distressing statistic. It is particularly distressing because according to another study, “when specific employee behaviors are addressed in a meaningful way to bring about a security-aware culture, the incidence and cost of non-compliance plummets.”

Continue Reading

The 2 Essential Ways to Prevent Data Breaches

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

data breach post 1

by Daniel J. Solove

We’re in the midst of a crisis in data protection. Billions of passwords stolen. . . Mammoth data breaches. . . Increasing threats. . . Malicious hackers . . . Continue Reading

Follow Professor Solove on Social Media

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

If you are interested in privacy and data security issues, there are many great ways Professor Solove can help you stay informed:

Professor Solove’s LinkedIn Influencer blog

LinkedIn Influencer 02 You can follow Professor Solove on his blog at LinkedIn, where he is an “LinkedIn Influencer.”  He blogs about various privacy and data security issues. His blog has more than 600,000 followers.

LinkedIn Influencer 01

*    *    *    *

Professor Solove’s Twitter Feed

Twitter 01Professor Solove is active on Twitter and posts links to current privacy and data security stories and new scholarship, cases, and developments of note.

*    *    *    *

Professor Solove’s Newsletter

Newsletter 01Sign up for our newsletter where Professor Solove provides information about his recent writings and new training programs that he has created.

*    *    *    *

Professor Solove’s LinkedIn Discussion Groups

Please join one or more of Professor Solove’s LinkedIn discussion groups, where you can follow new developments on privacy, data security, HIPAA, and education privacy issues. You can also participate in the discussion, share interesting news and articles, ask questions, or start new conversations:

Privacy and
Data Security
HIPAA Privacy
and Security
Education Privacy
and Data Security
Image Group LinkedIn Logo Education Privacy 01 Image Group LinkedIn Logo HIPAA 01 Image Group LinkedIn Logo Privacy Security 01

The Most Effective Factor in Education

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

most effective education blog 1

by Daniel J. Solove

I’ve been a teacher for the past 15 years, and I’ve taught in several mediums including live classes and computer-based e-learning. I have come to the conclusion that the most effective factor in education and training is fostering emotional investment.

Simply put, students must care about learning the material. The more they care, the more they learn.

The notion of getting emotional investment from students might sound like simple common sense, but it is often not done …and often not even attempted.

Continue Reading

HIPAA Turns 10: Analyzing the Past, Present, and Future Impact

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

by Daniel J. Solove

In the April issue of the Journal of AHIMA, I authored two short pieces about HIPAA:

HIPAA Turns 10: Analyzing the Past, Present, and Future Impact
84 Journal of AHIMA 22 (April 2013)

HIPAA Mighty and Flawed: Regulation has Wide-Reaching Impact on the Healthcare
Industry
84 Journal of AHIMA 30 (April 2013)

The first piece provides an overview of HIPAA and its evolution. The second involves an analysis of HIPAA’s strengths and weaknesses. Overall, I find HIPAA to be one of the most effective privacy regulatory regimes.  HIPAA is very effective in large part because it requires privacy and security officials who have responsibility over these issues.  These officials develop policies and procedures, perform assessments, and provide HIPAA training to employees, among other things. Privacy laws are not self-executing, and enforcement agencies have limited enforcement resources. The effectiveness of the law depends upon each organization taking compliance seriously, and this starts with a governance structure, awareness training, and things that create a culture of compliance.  Many other privacy laws don’t realize this, and fail to include the robust governance components of HIPAA.

The entire issue is here. Copyright belongs to Journal of AHIMA.

* * * *

This post was authored by Professor Daniel J. Solove, who through TeachPrivacy develops computer-based privacy training, data security training, HIPAA training, and many other forms of training on privacy and security topics.  

If you are interested in privacy and data security issues, there are many great ways Professor Solove can help you stay informed:
* Professor Solove’s LinkedIn Influencer blog
* Professor Solove’s Twitter Feed
* Professor Solove’s Newsletter

Please join one or more of Professor Solove’s LinkedIn Discussion Groups:
* Privacy and Data Security
* HIPAA Privacy & Security
* Education Privacy and Data Security

Privacy and Security Training: Why Train? What Is Effective?

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

by Daniel J. Solove

I recently presented at the ABA Antitrust Spring Meeting about privacy and data security training on a panel called “Compliance Tools for In-House Chief Privacy Officers.” I discussed why all organizations should have privacy training and what makes privacy training effective. I thought I’d share with you the gist of my talk.

Why Train?

The short answer – an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Privacy and security incidents can leave gaping wounds, and training can reduce the risk.

Continue Reading