Touchstone Compliance

HIPAA

Healthcare Providers: Why a Computer’s Audit Trail Is Important

I’m going to talk a little bit today about audit trails — sometimes called “audit logs” — and the vital role they can play in your ongoing efforts to keep Protected Health Information (PHI) safe, your workforce honest, and hackers at bay. What is an audit trail? According to Fundamentals of Law for Health Informatics …

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The Newest Standard for Notifying Patients of a PHI Breach

Before the HIPAA Omnibus Rule went into effect last year, the standard for determining whether or not patients needed to be notified in the event of a breach of Protected Health Information (PHI) was pretty subjective.  If, for instance, a computer with PHI  of 3000+ patients was stolen from a small practice, it was the …

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Is Texting PHI (Protected Health Information) Allowed by HIPAA?

The answer to that question is more complicated than a simple yes or no. “It depends,” says it best. The reason lies in the law itself. The lawmakers who crafted the HIPAA legislation went to great lengths, it seems to me, to make the mandate non-prescriptive.  HIPAA compliance doesn’t expressly require the use or avoidance …

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HIPAA Risk Assessment: Lessons from General Motors

For healthcare providers who’ve been putting off doing a risk assessment and developing a mitigation plan, Mary Barra, the CEO of General Motors, could make a compelling case against that kind of procrastination. If ten years earlier GM had identified the ignition switch in last year’s headlines as a potentially deadly defect and taken steps …

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9 Safeguards for a HIPAA Compliant Fax

Before there was widespread access to email and the Internet, fax machines in healthcare practices were a common and accepted way to expeditiously share patient information with other providers. Convenient, affordable, easy to use, it’s no wonder fax machines are still whirring in a lot of offices. Maybe even yours. But with all the regulations …

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How Falling Prey to a Phishing Expedition Puts PHI at Risk

Phishing has become so commonplace, the word has made its way into the dictionary: Phish — to try to obtain financial or other confidential information from Internet users, typically by sending an e-mail that looks as if it is from a legitimate organization, usually a financial institution, but contains a link to a fake website …

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Cracking the Code of HHS Guidelines for Encryption of PHI

To encrypt or not to encrypt, that is the question. Or to put it another way: To convert readable data into gibberish that must be decoded to become readable again — or not to convert readable data into gibberish that must be decoded to become readable again, that is the question. The Health Insurance Portability …

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Basics of a Good Business Associate Agreement for HIPAA

When it comes to safeguarding Protected Health Information (PHI), you could say, “It takes a village.”  The Omnibus Rule underscores the fact that protecting patients’ health information and their right to privacy is the responsibility today not only of healthcare providers, but also of their business associates (BAs) whose work requires them to access PHI. …

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HIPAA & The Miley-Cyrus Approach to Data Disposal

Does a Miley Cyrus video with over 750 million views offer any insights into what HIPAA says about data disposal? Well, consider this: The massive wrecking ball Ms. Cyrus sits on in the video swings between cinder-block walls. And before the hit song is over, they’re reduced to rubble, destroyed beyond recognition. If it’s not …

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