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The Coalfire Blog

They Changed What? HIPAA & HITECH

May 24, 2011, Andrew Hicks, Managing Principal, Coalfire

Andrew Hicks

In 1996, the Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) opened the door to increased exchanges of healthcare information in an effort to improve care and reduce costs. The Act included new provisions for protected health information (PHI). Since there are only a few limited reviews and enforcement efforts, the effectiveness of the implementations have remained open.

The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) portion of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 contained four significant changes.

  1. HITECH extended the scope of the original HIPAA Rules to include business associates of previously covered entities.
  2. Efforts were renewed to push the adoption of Electronic Health Records (EHRs).
  3. A Breach Notification Rule was established that provides stiff penalties and publication of PHI exposure incidents, holding the covered entity responsible for the actions (or inactions) of their associates.
  4. Direction and funding was provided for audits of HIPAA compliance. Fines associated with a breach or audit failure are particularly harsh for those guilty of Willful Neglect.

Not sure what this means? You are not alone. We have heard from several clients that they are unsure of what this means for them. Over the next several months, we will be working to clarify and simplify the challenges being faced by the healthcare industry. For more information about data security and compliance issues that affect the healthcare industry, click here to view our webinar, “HIPAA Modifications & HITECH Rules: What are the Security Essentials?

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