NY Law Firm Pays $200,000 To Resolve HIPAA Violations Stemming From LockBit Cyberattack

Heidell, Pittoni, Murphy & Bach LLP (HPMB), a New York-based law firm, has agreed to a $200,000 payment to the New York Attorney General in order to settle alleged violations of the state’s General Business Law and the Privacy and Security Rules governed by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. The payment follows a LockBit ransomware attack on the law firm, which led to the encryption and theft of files containing confidential patient information. LockBit ransomware is a cyberattack variant that primarily focuses on large enterprises and government organizations instead of individual users. Originally referred to as “ABCD” ransomware,…

Biden Administration Unveils New National Cybersecurity Strategy To Protect Digital Infrastructure

The Biden administration recently unveiled a new national cybersecurity strategy with the aim of protecting the United States’ digital infrastructure. The increasing interconnectedness of today’s world has made securing cyber systems and technology crucial. The administration is responding to a growing number of threats posed by malicious hacking tools and services that are available to countries and criminal syndicates. Autocratic states such as China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea have been known to use advanced cyber capabilities to oppose U.S. interests and undermine international norms. Criminal organizations in countries that do not comply with U.S. laws pose a serious threat…

HHS OCR Announces New Divisions To Tackle Rising Caseloads And Cybersecurity Threats

The HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has announced new restructuring efforts to better address the growing need for enforcement of federal civil rights, privacy, and conscience laws. OCR has reported that its caseload has multiplied in recent years, increasing to over 51,000 complaints in 2022, which is a 69 percent increase between 2017 and 2022. The increase in caseloads is due in part to the expanding use of technology in healthcare, which has led to increased data breaches and cybersecurity threats. Protecting health information privacy and cybersecurity has become a paramount concern, as data breaches can have significant consequences…

DEA Takes Step Toward Expanding Access To Medications With Proposed Telemedicine Rules

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has proposed new regulations that would make it possible to prescribe controlled medications using telemedicine. This would expand access to vital treatments beyond the term of the COVID-19 public health crisis. These rules were created with the help of the US Department of Health and Human Services and the US Department of Veterans Affairs. The new regulations aim to implement safeguards on certain telemedicine consultations that have been conducted without a physical examination of the patient. These rules would allow practitioners to prescribe an amount of Schedule III-V drugs and a 30-day supply of buprenorphine…

HIPAA Violations On The Rise: OCR Releases Annual Report To Congress On HIPAA Compliance

With the number of HIPAA violations continuing to rise, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has released its annual report to Congress on HIPAA privacy, security, and breach notification rule compliance, providing critical insights into the state of HIPAA enforcement in 2021. The report reveals a significant increase of 25% in the number of complaints received by the OCR, underscoring the need for continued efforts to improve compliance with HIPAA regulations and safeguard the privacy and security of patient health information. Established in 1996, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires healthcare organizations to safeguard the confidentiality of…

CMS Takes Action To Combat Medicare Advantage Overpayments And Improve Program Supervision

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has launched an investigation into Medicare Advantage Organizations (MAOs) to recoup a staggering $4.7 billion in overpayments. MAOs have long been accused of misusing taxpayer dollars, leading to calls for greater oversight of the programs. Long-standing allegations of payment abuses in the MA program, particularly those connected to risk adjustments, have alarmed regulators. Millions of Americans are covered by the program, which pays MAOs capitated rates and risk-adjusted payments to increase payments to plans for sicker members. Federal officials claim that this structure provides health plans with a financial incentive to misrepresent…

Study Reveals US States Can Do More To Advance Telehealth Policy For Better Access To Care

A study conducted by the Reason Foundation, Cicero Institute, and Pioneer Institute revealed that the US states have room for improvement in advancing telehealth policy to ensure better access to high-quality care. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a significant shift in healthcare delivery, leading to the widespread adoption of telehealth services. The study noted that while telehealth services were available before the pandemic, millions of Americans used telehealth for the first time over the past three years. The researchers found that most of the emergency actions taken early on in the pandemic were only temporary, and as public health emergency…

New Report Finds Americans Die Younger And Are Less Healthy Than Other High-Income Nations Despite High Healthcare Spending

An analysis by the Commonwealth Fund has revealed that people in the United States experience shorter life expectancies and poorer overall health compared to those in other high-income countries, even though the U.S. spends approximately 18 percent of its gross domestic product on health care. The US Health Care from a Global Perspective report is published every year by the Commonwealth Fund. This report assesses the American health spending, outcomes, status, and service use by conducting a cross-national comparison of the health system performance. Data sources for this comparison include the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) which has…

Bipartisan Legislation Reintroduced To Improve Access To Affordable Outpatient Surgery For Medicare Beneficiaries

U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and U.S. Representatives Brad Wenstrup, D.P.M. (R-OH-02) and John Larson (D-CT-01) have reintroduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation that aims to improve access to affordable outpatient surgical care for Medicare beneficiaries. The Outpatient Surgery Quality and Access Act is designed to eliminate copay penalties, address reimbursement gaps, and remove other barriers that limit seniors’ access to Ambulatory Surgery Centers (ASCs). According to projections, ASCs offer many vital outpatient services at low prices, and their increased use is projected to save Medicare billions of dollars in the coming years. However, current restrictions and misaligned…

Report Finds Variations In Telehealth Regulations Among U.S. States

A report from the Commonwealth Fund recently analyzed the varying telehealth regulations and policies present in different US states, taking into account the unique experiences that each state had during the early stages of the pandemic. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdowns across the country caused an increase in the restrictions of in-person care services. Consequently, providers turned to virtual care in order to continue patient care while protecting everyone from the novel coronavirus. However, now that the number and severity of COVID-19 cases have started to decrease, stakeholders have questioned the regulatory flexibilities that were put in…

Extension Of Telehealth Waivers And Hospital-At-Home Programs Secured In $1.7 Trillion Year-End Spending Bill

On Tuesday, the release of a $1.7 trillion year-end spending bill was announced, aiming to prevent a government shutdown. The bill includes several healthcare provisions, most notably the extension of telehealth and hospital-at-home waivers and the reduction of the 2023 Medicare payment cuts from 4.5 percent to 2 percent. Telehealth supporters have won a major victory with the passing of this new bill. This bill extends the telehealth-related regulatory flexibilities for Medicare beneficiaries, which were put into action during the COVID-19 pandemic, for two years. Before this bill, these flexibilities were only set to remain in place for five months…

Omnibus Bill Outlines Key Security Requirements for Medical Devices

An omnibus appropriations bill that would fund the government through September 30, 2023, has been released by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. The bill, which clocks in at over 4,000 pages, contains a number of provisions that will affect healthcare, such as medical device security requirements for manufacturers. Lawmakers and healthcare leaders have been advocating for more guidance and regulations in the area of medical device security. With healthcare organizations managing thousands of internet-connected medical devices, the potential for security risks is a genuine concern. The industry’s reliance on legacy systems, combined with an amplified focus on cybersecurity by…

HHS Suggests Regulation To Enforce HIPAA Guidelines For Healthcare Attachments And Digital Signatures

The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has proposed a new rule outlining standards for healthcare attachments transactions and electronic signatures. This measure is in line with the Administrative Simplification Requirements of HIPAA and the Affordable Care Act, and is intended to provide health plans, healthcare clearinghouses, and healthcare providers with a uniform method of sending attachments. The new rule, if implemented, would apply to all entities that currently lack an efficient system for doing so. The absence of HIPAA-adopted standards for healthcare attachments and electronic signatures has resulted in health plans relying on manual processes…

Executive Order Addresses Growing Cybersecurity Risks

In response to the growing threat of cyberattacks, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has signed an executive order that will help organizations protect their infrastructure. The new Massachusetts Cyber Incident Response Team (MA-CIRT), overseen by the Secretary of the Executive Office of Technology Services and Security (EOTSS), is designed to provide assistance in the prevention, mitigation, and recovery of cyberattacks. Governor Baker noted in a press release that, “State governments and other organizations across the country are increasingly being targeted by bad actors aiming to disrupt operations and compromise information systems.” He added, “As state governments expand their digital footprints, moving…

CMS Publish National Health Expenditures Report

Earlier this week, CMS actuaries released data as part of the National Health Expenditures (NHE) report. Published annually, the NHE measures total annual spending on healthcare goods and services (e.g., hospital, physician, and prescription drugs), the type of payer (e.g., commercial health insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid), and the type of sponsor (e.g., businesses, households, and federal/state governments). According to the report, US national healthcare spending slowed in 2021, rising 10.3% compared to 2020. Although this was still an increase, it was lower than the 19.7% increase from 2019 to 2020. Healthcare costs continue to be high, with total health expenditures…

HHS Proposes Permanent Telehealth Flexibilities For Distributing Buprenorphine

On Tuesday, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed a rule to expand access to treatments for opioid use disorder. The proposed updates, which have not been updated in over two decades, would address long standing barriers in regulations and allow physicians to utilize telehealth to initiate buprenorphine treatment. Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, Ph.D., leader of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), noted that the proposed changes could reduce overdose rates. When the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020, SAMHSA implemented measures to allow physicians to start substance abuse treatment with buprenorphine through telehealth and provided take-home…

US Representatives To Expand Access To Quality Healthcare With The Telehealth Extension Act

The Telehealth Extension Act has been introduced by the bipartisan members of the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, led by U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX). Cosponsors of the bill include Reps. Devin Nunes (R-CA), Mike Thompson (D-CA), Mike Kelly (R-PA), and David Schweikert (R-AZ). This bill seeks to guarantee permanent access to telehealth services. Several prominent telehealth supporters, such as the National Rural Health Association, the eHealth Initiative, the American Nurses Association, and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, have endorsed the bill. This legislation seeks to abolish geographic and site limitations, enabling Medicare beneficiaries to use telehealth services no matter…

Pennsylvania State Governor Amends Breach Of Personal Information Notification Act

On November 3rd 2022, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed Senate Bill (‘SB’) 696 to amend the Breach of Personal Information Notification Act of 2005 to broaden the definition of personal information.  Under the new amendments, businesses who experience a breach of the personal information they manage are required to notify those affected. However, the type of information that requires a notification can vary from state to state, as well as format, timing, and other conditions. Companies who have clients in many states must keep track of and adhere to a multitude of varying requirements. Additionally, notifications issued by breached businesses…

CHIME Provides FTC With ANPR Feedback

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently received feedback from the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) regarding its Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) on the Trade Regulation Rule on Commercial Surveillance and Data Security. In this feedback, CHIME encouraged the FTC to hold health apps and data brokers accountable for criminal disclosures of health data and deceptive or misleading data practices. On August 22, 2022, the ANPR was released in the Federal Register, asking stakeholders in the healthcare sector whether the FTC should introduce innovative trade regulation rules or other regulatory alternatives concerning the ways in which companies…

HHS Extends COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Telehealth Flexibilities

On October 13, 2022, Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Health and Human Services, extended the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) for a record-breaking eleventh time. The COVID-19 PHE was first announced in January 2020 by Alex Azar II, the HHS Secretary at the time. Becerra granted the prior extension to July 15, 2022. The COVID-19 PHE’s most recent extension is for an additional 90 days; the new date is January 11, 2023. In response to the COVID-19 PHE, a number of flexibilities were introduced, including modifications to Medicare to increase coverage of telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Medicare beneficiaries from…

Telehealth Stakeholders Urge US Senators To Continue PHE Telehealth Flexibilities

In a letter to the US Senate, which was co-led by the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) and its advocacy group ATA Action and bearing the signatures of 375 stakeholders, it is requested that expanded telehealth access be supported for the following two years while working forward towards a permanent extension of the existing flexibilities and exceptions. Upon the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, the United States government announced a Public Health Emergency (PHE) in order to limit the spread of the deadly virus. The PHE eliminated a number of regulations within the health sector including regulations that restricted the extent…

California Governor Signs Package Of Bills To Improve Abortion Patient Privacy

The state of California has improved safeguards for those seeking birth control and abortion services. California Governor Gavin Newson, has signed a package of bills that forbid healthcare providers from disclosing patients’ medical information in response to subpoenas and requests form outside the state. The bill comes following the United States Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization which removed women’s federal right to obtain an abortion, leaving the decsion up to the individual state. Several states had trigger laws in place whereby, in the event of the overruling of Dobbs v. Jackson, abortion would be…

Healthcare Groups Request HHS To Extend 21st Century Cures Act Compliance Deadline

As of October 6th, 2022, all HIPAA-regulated healthcare providers will be required to achieve full compliance with the information blocking requirements of the 21st Century Cures Act. Following October 6th, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will be responsible for imposing financial penalties to healthcare providers who fail to facilitate patient’s access to their health information.  The new information blocking requirements have been introduced by legislatures to improve patient access to their medical records. Information blocking is defined as any practice by an entity that is likely to interfere with the access, exchange, or use of electronic health…

FDA’s User Fee Authorization Bill Medical Device Cybersecurity Requirements Removed By Senate Republicans

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) user fee authorization bill that was approved by the House of Representatives in early June contained new provisions demanding medical device manufacturers to label all devices with a software bill of materials, to adequately monitor for and rectify postmarket cybersecurity flaws in their devices, and ensure all devices are able to receive updates to ensure cybersecurity for the entirety of the devices’ lifecycles. By a vote of 392-28, the law was approved. However, the cybersecurity provisions have since been removed. With time running out, the FDA bowed to pressure from Senate republicans…

GAO Report Finds That HHS Must Strengthen Telehealth Oversight

The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) has recently called for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to strengthen their oversight and assist medicare telehealth providers to educate patients on Privacy and Security Risks. Due to the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, Medicare temporarily waived restrictions on telehealth services to help patients access care without risk of exposure. As a result, the number of telehealth visits grew exponentially to over 53 million between April and December 2020. The unprecedented use of telehealth services has raised many concerns regarding the quality of care patients received and the lack of…

House Reps. Introduce Bill To Allow Pharmacies To Refuse Provision Of Abortion Medication

United States House Republicans have introduced a bill to ensure pharmacists can refuse patients’ requests for abortion medicines if they oppose. The Pharmacist Conscience Protection Act, which was proposed on Wednesday, forbids the federal government from punishing pharmacists who object on moral or religious grounds to prescribing medications that might result in an abortion. The bill comes following the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) guidance which states that pharmacists who refuse to provide prescriptions for abortions could be in violation of several civil rights laws.  The HHS argued that in accordance with federal civil rights rules, pharmacists are…

HHS Appoints New Office For Civil Rights Director Melanie Fontes Rainer

The United States Department of Health and Human Services’ Director Xavier Becerra has formally sworn in Melanie Fontes Rainer as Director of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR). As of Wednesday, September 12, 2022, Fontes Rainer will lead the OCR in its duties to enforce federal civil rights, conscience protections, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act’s (HIPAA) Rules, which protect Americans’ fundamental civil rights and medical privacy.  Melanie Fontes Rainer has been officially sworn in as the Director of the Office for Civil Rights by Xavier Becerra, Director of the United States’ Department of Health and Human Services…

US Senators Ask HHS To Bolster Reproductive Health Privacy Following SCOTUS Roe V. Wade Ruling

Following the United States’ Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade and Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, 30 groups have written a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Secretary Xavier Becerra requesting an update to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act to ensure the privacy of patients’ reproductive health data. As a result of the Supreme Court’s decision, numerous states either outlawed abortion for their citizens or imposed limitations, and some have even started looking into and punishing women who obtain abortion services.  The senators, under the leadership of Patty Murray, chair of the…

DHS Releases Final Rule Updating Basis For Public Charge Inadmissability

The U.S.’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has released a final rule, which will be released in the Federal Register, that clarifies and uniformly applies DHS’s management of the public charge basis of inadmissibility for non-citizens. The rule amends actions that the Trump Administration made to identify supplemental public health benefits like Medicaid and nutritional assistance as part of the public charge inadmissibility determination and corrects the historical understanding of a “public charge” that had been recognized for previous decades. According to the DHS’s press release, the rule is a reflection of the Biden Administration’s commitment to restore faith in…

House Democrats Request Meta Data Privacy Briefing Following Nebraska Abortion Case

On August 31, 2022, the Democrats part of the Committee on Energy and Commerce sent a letter to Mark Zuckerberg, Meta CEO, outlining their concerns about the company’s data-sharing policy and asking for clarity on the dissemination of private messages to law authorities.  The letter comes as a mother and her daughter discussions relating to an illegal abortion on Meta platforms had been obtained by law enforcement. In Nebraska, law enforcement had conducted an investigation into Jessica Burgess and her 18-year old daughter, Celeste, over an alleged illegal abortion. Following the United States’ decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Nebraska…

California Legislature Strengthen Female Reproductive Health Privacy

A bill has been approved by the California legislature that forbids businesses operating in the state of California from providing access to information on those pursuing or performing abortions to other states who require the information through warrants. The bill is an attempt made by the California legislature to protect women’s privacy following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade. Following the Supreme Court’s decision, women’s federal right to an abortion has been left been left to individual states to choose whether abortion is legal. Several republican states had trigger laws in place to immediately prohibited abortions in…

Cyberspace Solarium Commision Requests Urgent Cyber Briefing With HHS

A letter has been sent by Angus S. King Jr. (I-ME) and Congressman Mike Gallagher (R-WI), Co-Chairs of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Secretary Xavier Beccerra expressing concerns regarding the public health sector’s cybersecurity. In the letter, the lawmakers emphasize the significant rise in cyberattacks aimed at the healthcare industry, call for more concerted effort to confront the growing danger, and request the government for an urgent update on the issue.  King and Gallagher detail how the COVID-19 pandemic exposed several systemic issues within the healthcare sector, particularly the shortage of resources. However,…

Medtronic Announces Class I Recall For Implantable Defibrillators

Medtronic has announced a recall of its Cobalt and Crome implantable cardioverter defibrillators and cardiac resynchronization therapy defibrillators. A report issued by the Food and Drug Administration labeled the recall in the Class I after the report found that the devices may only deliver approximately 79 percent of the intended energy of the shock during high-voltage treatment. The recall includes more than 20,000 units.  The recall comes after healthcare professionals in Europe received an urgent field safety notification from Medtronic last month regarding the same issue with the same product codes. The notification stated that the effectiveness of the defibrillator…

Senate Passes $740B Bill To Reduce Healthcare Costs

A long-waited bill worth $740 billion to reduce the price of prescription medications and health insurance has officially been approved by the Senate. The legislation comes as a new form of the Build Back Better Act, which passed through the House of Representatives in November. However, the previous Act was far greater, amounting to $2.2 trillion. The Act may have been too optimistic as the Act did not pass through the Senate. The Act underwent a rebrand and reduction which warranted enough support from Senators to pass the law through the upper chamber of Congress. On August 7, the Biden…

Senator Hawley Requests FTC To Investigate Amazon’s One Medical Acquisition Amid Privacy Concerns

A letter has been sent to the Federal Trade Commision (FTC) by Senator Josh Hawley requesting an investigation into Amazon’s plans to purchase primary care company organization One Medical. The letter comes as a result of concerns regarding patient health information privacy and security concerns.  On July 21, it was announced that Amazon had settled a deal to purchase 1Life Healthcare, which provides primary treatment via One Medical. In the letter, Senator Hawley recognizes the FTC’s efforts to counteract America’s growing economic oligopoly and the influence of tech giants. However, he maintains that the One Medical acquisition requires particular attention….

New Guidance By HHS and DOJ To Prevent Telehealth Discrimination Issued

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the US Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued a new guidance for healthcare providers to help prevent telehealth discrimination. The new guidance marks the 32nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, where the US government seeks to address several federal nondiscrimination laws such as the ADA Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act along with several steps healthcare providers can take to prohibit discrimination and protect access to health…

Texas Democrats And Abortion Rights Organizations Urge The White House To Take Immediate Action To Guarantee Access to Medication Abortions

In response to the Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn Roe v Wade, a coalition of Texas Democrats have written to the White House, proposing strategies to ensure medication-enabled abortions are still available. This ruling has caused abortion restrictions to come into effect in Texas and other states, resulting in abortion being illegal in Texas and individuals needing to travel to other states to receive abortion care. The letter from the Texas Democrats and abortion rights organizations highlighted the financial and transportation difficulties this would cause for many, and asked the Biden administration for their support. The White House has…

510(k) Clearance Granted To ResApp Sleep Apnea Detection App

The US Food and Drug Administration has granted clearance to ResApp Health’s 510(k) app. The SleepCheckRx app screens users for moderate to severe sleep apnea by listening to recordings of their breathing and snoring. The regulatory clearance will only apply to the iPhone version. However, ResApp has stated that they are committed to developing an android version.  In the U.S. alone, approximately 20 million American adults live with sleep apnea. Despite the high number, the majority are unaware of their condition. The new app will help provide physicians with the opportunity to evaluate their patients effectively. To acquire access to…

DHS Issues Cybersecurity Alert To Illumina

The Cybersecuirty and Infrastructure Agency, a component of the DHS, has issued a cybersecurity alert regarding Illumina software and its multiple vulnerabilities. The Local Run Manager program provides a complete solution for collecting samples for a run, selecting run parameters, keeping track of progress, examining sequencing data, and reviewing outcomes. The vulnerabilities were identified by Pentest, an information security consultant, who found the softwares diagnostic devices and research-use only instruments were susceptible to security threats. The instruments named included NextSeq 500, 550 and 550Dx, MiSeq and MiSeq Dx, iSeq 100 and MiniSeq. Amongst these devices, Pentest found that an unauthorized…

Biden Issues Executive Order To Protect Patient Privacy Concerns Following Roe v. Wade Decision

An executive order has been released by President Biden to address patient privacy protection concerns and to emphasize the significance of access to abortion in response to the Supreme Corut’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.  “Eliminating the right recognized in Roe has already had and will continue to have devastating implications for women’s health and public health more broadly. Access to reproductive healthcare services is now threatened for millions of Americans, and especially for those who live in States that are banning or severely restricting abortion care.” The “Executive Order on Protecting Access to Reproductive Healthcare Services” details how…

US Senators Urge HHS To Update HIPAA Privacy Rule Following SCOTUS Roe V. Wade Decision

United States Senators Catherine Cortez Masto and Michael Bennet have written to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Secretary, Xavier Becerra, (HHS) requesting an update of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to improve reproductive rights protection. The letter comes as major concerns have been raised regarding data and privacy concerns following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.  “Last week, the Supreme Court upended almost 50 years of legal precedent in its decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. The decision has created profound uncertainty for patients concerning their right to privacy when making the…

Canada Strengthening Privacy Legislation with New Laws

The Canadian federal government is seeking to strengthen their privacy legislation with the introduction of new laws to the House of Commons. The developments to privacy law were introduced in the form of Bill C-27, a renovation of the previously proposed Bill C-11. The objective of Bill C-11 was to repeal the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), the current federal private sector privacy law and replace them with a new legislative framework for data and privacy. However, Bill C-11 was unsuccessful and never made it into law.  Bill C-27 is another attempt to introduce more stringent privacy…

FSMB Updates Telemedicine Policy

Since 2014, there has been a dramatic increase in the utilization of telemedicine, resulting in the advancement of telemedicine technologies and new challenges to the safety of patients. The rapid expansion of telemedicine generated by the public health emergency of the COVID-19 pandemic  has caused concerns regarding fraud and abuse and access inequity. To address these concerns, the FSMB appointed a workgroup tasked with establishing an updated policy regarding telemedicine. The workgroup created the new policy by addressing the challenges and evolving use of telemedicine, analyzing the effect of waiving licensing requirements and practice across state lines, reviewing current state…

COVID Teleheath Cross State Waivers Now Expiring

During the COVID-19 pandemic, all U.S. 50 states were granted emergency authority to waive components of their state licensing requirements.  Under these waivers, states could allow temporary visits from out of state physicians to provide services. However, as the Covid-19 pandemic winds down, waivers allowing for cross-state telehealth are expiring. Hospitals with large amounts of COVID-19 cases were put under immense pressure and had their resources stretched thin. Under the pandemic waivers, overwhelmed hospitals were permitted to request help from physicians in other states to provide care via telehealth. The result of these waivers were extremely advantageous. Particularly to patients…

Access To Healthcare Now Top Priority For OCR Following Roe v. Wade Overruling

Following the Supreme Court’s decision to overrule Roe v. Wade, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra has recently urged HHS agencies to take action to protect women’s access to sexual and reproductive health care, which includes abortion, pregnancy complications, and other related care. The decision made by the Supreme Court to overrule Roe v. Wade has removed women’s rights to safe and legal abortions, leaving the decision for the individual states to determine women’s reproductive rights. 13 states have trigger laws embedded in Roe v. Wade that will outlaw abortions once overturned. The HHS’ Office…

CMS Urged To Support mHealth Innovation In IPPS Through Connected Health Initiative

The Connected Health Initiative (CHI), a coalition composed of a wide range of stakeholders ranging from physician and patient groups to pharmaceutical and software companies and research universities, recently sent a letter to agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and others in order to further mobile health innovation, while safeguarding confidentiality. The CHI steering committee consists of Boston Children’s Hospital, HIMSS, Apple, and UnitedHealth Group. In its letter, CHI expressed their support for mobile health innovation and advocated for the Medicare hospital inpatient prospective payment system (IPPS) proposed changes from CMS….

San Diego Family Care Opted for $1 Million Settlement to Take Care of Class Action Data Breach Lawsuit

San Diego Family Care, a medical, dental, & mental health services provider in California, has opted to settle a class-action lawsuit filed by patients affected by a 2020 data breach. The data breach that prompted the lawsuit was announced by the healthcare services provider in May 2021. The breach report submitted to the HHS’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) stated that 125,500 patients were impacted, though the total was afterward adjusted to 154,513 patients. The breached data included names, dates of birth, government ID numbers, Social Security numbers, medical diagnosis or treatment details, health insurance data, financial account numbers, and…

BD Issues Security Advisories Regarding Pyxis and Synapsys Vulnerabilities

BD has published security alerts regarding two vulnerabilities that impact certain BD Pyxis automatic medication dispensing system products and the BD Synapsys microbiology informatics software program. BD Pyxis – CVE-2022-22767 As per BD, a number of BD Pyxis products were installed using default credentials and could still run using those credentials. In certain situations, the affected products could have been put in having the same default local operating system credentials or domain-joined server(s) credentials that might be shared among product types. Should a threat actor exploit the vulnerability, it is possible to acquire privileged access to the root file system,…

Revision to Indiana Data Breach Notification Law Shortens Time Frame for Notifications

On July 1, 2022, revised data breach notification laws (HB 1351) will be in force in Indiana that necessitates the issuance of notifications 45 days from the time of discovering a breach that affected the personally identifiable information (PII) of Indiana citizens. Presently, the data breach notification conditions are for notifications to be given with no unreasonable delay. The revision has been made to make sure that those whose PII was exposed are given immediate notification. When PII is compromised, individual notifications ought to still be given without unreasonable delay. A reasonable delay is whenever one of these situations applies:…

Password Security and Management Recommendations

Creating and recalling long, difficult passwords is problematic for a lot of people, and it is made even more challenging as a result of the need to produce passwords to secure several accounts – A research by NordPass indicates the average individual has approximately 100 passwords. A lot of folks struggle to make and keep in mind several strong and unique passwords, and so with numerous accounts to protect it is not shocking that people take shortcuts, however, those password management tools make password security vulnerable. It is typical for users to not create unique passwords and utilize a similar…

Email Account Breaches Reported by Newman Regional Health and Contra Costa County

Newman Regional Health (NRH), which runs a 25-bed critical access hospital situated in Emporia, KS, has of late commenced notifying 52,224 people that unauthorized folks have obtained access to a few employee email accounts comprising protected health information (PHI). NRH noted on its web page that unauthorized persons had seen a number of employee email accounts in a period of 10 months in 2021 from January 26, 2021 to November 23, 2021. After identification of the data breach, prompt measures were done to secure the email accounts. NRH began an investigation to determine the magnitude and nature of the breach….

Escalation in Class Action Lawsuits After Healthcare Data Breaches

The law agency BakerHostetler has publicized its 8th Annual Data Security Incident Response (DSIR) Report, which gives information based upon 1,270 data security incidents handled by the agency in 2021. 23% of those occurrences involved data security incidents at healthcare companies, which was the most attacked industry. Ransomware Attacks Grew in 2021 Ransomware attacks have continued happening at heightened levels. 37% of all data security occurrences dealt with by the company in 2021 were ransomware attacks in comparison to 27% in 2020. Attacks on healthcare institutions grew significantly year over year. 35% of healthcare security breaches addressed by BakerHostetler in…

The Protecting and Transforming Cyber Health Care (PATCH) Act Unveiled to Boost Medical Device Cybersecurity

Two bipartisan senators have presented the Protecting and Transforming Cyber Health Care (PATCH) Act which seeks to increase the security of medical devices. Vulnerabilities are usually discovered in medical devices that can likely be taken advantage of by threat actors to alter the operation of the devices, render them unuseable, or utilize the devices as a channel for more extensive attacks on healthcare sites. During the pandemic, there was a surge of cyberattacks on healthcare institutions, and medical devices, and the systems to which they hook up were affected by ransomware attacks. These attacks have hurt hospitals, patients, and the…

Four States Pass Legislation To Expand Telehealth Services

The state Senators of Alabama, Kentucky, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania have all discussed or adopted regulations for telehealth services. For example, Alabama’s approved bill mandates that a doctor delivering telehealth medical treatment must be as attentive, thorough, and careful as if rendering the service in person. This means that patients can access remote care without first having met the provider. However, if a patient requires more than four virtual care appointments for the same issue without it being solved, then the doctor must make an in-person visit within a year. This bill has now been sent to the Alabama House…

Proposed Legislation Seeks To Establish Telehealth As An Acceptable Employee Benefit

A new bipartisan bill was introduced to the US House of Representatives on Thursday. It allows employers to offer standalone telehealth programs in addition to traditional medical health plans. The bill, called the Telehealth Benefit Expansion for Workers Act, would classify telehealth as an excepted benefit and amend the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and the Affordable Care Act so that all employees, including part-time and seasonal workers, can receive the benefit. Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA) recently proposed the Telehealth Benefit Expansion for Workers Act. The bill aims to make telehealth services more accessible to workers by allowing employers…

DOJ Settles Civil Cyber Fraud Initiative Case with CHS and Charge a $930,000 Penalty

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced the settlement reached with the healthcare services provider, Comprehensive Health Services (CHS) based in Cape Canaveral, FL to resolve alleged False Claims Act violations. This is the first settlement reported under the DOJ Civil Cyber Fraud Initiative, which was introduced in 2021. The Civil Cyber Fraud Initiative was started to pursue cases against government contractors that knowingly utilized lacking cybersecurity tools and services which put information systems at risk, and failures to send notifications of cybersecurity incidents. CHS together with its subsidiaries had agreements with the U.S. Air Force and the U.S….

HHS Alerts of Possible Threats to the Healthcare Industry

The Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Sector Cybersecurity Coordination Center (HC3) has published an alert to the U.S. health industry concerning possible cyber threats that can spillover from the conflict and impact U.S. healthcare providers. HC3 stated the HHS is uninformed of any specified threats to the Health and Public Health (HPH) Segment; nevertheless, it is apparent that allies on the two sides of the clash have cyber capabilities and there are worries that there can be cyberattacks on the HPH industry as a result of the conflict. HC3 has cautioned that threats might be from three places:…

Senators Introduce Bipartisan Bill To Address Health Information Privacy Vulnerabilities

In 1996, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was introduced to require the creation of national standards to protect sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without the patient’s consent. However, after 2 decades, the health sector has changed significantly. Health information is now being collected, shared, and sold by tech companies. The HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules created rules to guarantee the privacy and security of health data, however HIPAA only applies to HIPAA-covered entities. As a result, HIPAA is due a number of updates to address its vulnerabilities. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)…

125+ Healthcare Organizations Urge Congress To Reinstate Pre-Deductible Telehealth Coverage for HDHP-HSAs

Over 125 organizations are calling on Congress to reinstate a provision that would permit employers and health plans to offer pre-deductible coverage for telehealth services for those with high-deductible health plans and Health Savings Accounts (HDHP-HSAs).  Last week, the Alliance for Connected Care convened a letter to Congressional leaders, signed by a mix of organizations including the American Telemedicine Association, America’s Health Insurance Plans, AMGA, LifePoint Health, CVS Health, and Teladoc Health. The letter urged the leaders to reinstate the telehealth safe harbor flexibility enacted in the CARES Act; the flexibility had expired on December 31st, but with the Omicron…

Report Explores The Restrictive Telehealth Laws Of COVID-19 Affected States

The COVID-19 pandemic saw a dramatic rise in the use of telehealth services, however a new report has highlighted the restrictive telehealth laws of states that have been most affected by the virus. These states include New York, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Washington, and New Jersey, which have distinct limitations placed on virtual care services that cross state lines. For instance, these states are not part of any interstate licensing compacts, which would otherwise allow providers from different states to practice with a license from their home state, provided they are in good standing. The report, created by Reason Foundation, Cicero…

New HIPAA Regulations in 2021

Although the changes to HIPAA regulations in 2021 were not much, new laws were introduced that are associated with the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules, with regards to cybersecurity, patient access to medical information, and HIPAA enforcement. 2021 HIPAA Safe Harbor Law President Trump signed the HIPAA Safe Harbor Bill (HR 7898) on January 5, 2021 and changed the HITECH Act. The goal of the HIPAA Safe Harbor Bill was to inspire healthcare institutions to follow standard cybersecurity procedures to enhance their protection against cyberattacks. The HIPAA Safe Harbor Bill teaches the HHS to consider the cybersecurity guidelines that a…

Chicago Accountancy Company Discovers Stolen Data in December 2020 Cyber Attack

The accountancy company Bansley and Kiener LLP located in Chicago, IL has reported that it experienced a ransomware attack in December 2020 that permitted the encryption of certain files inside its network. The attack merely brought about brief interruption, and all encrypted systems can be recovered using backup copies and immediately go back to usual operations. The attack took place on December 10, 2020, and the succeeding investigation into the occurrence didn’t get any proof of data theft and affirmed that the attack was completely secured. Nonetheless, Bansley and Kiener stated in a December 3, 2021 breach notification letter that…

New Mexico Hospital Faces Class Action Lawsuit Due to 2020 Data Breach

A class-action lawsuit has been filed against San Juan Regional Medical Center located in Farmington, New Mexico over a reported data breach in June 2021. Based on the breach investigation, an unauthorized person acquired access to its system and exfiltrated files that contain sensitive patient information from September 7, 2020, to September 8, 2020. The data breach report was at first submitted to the HHS’ Office for Civil Rights as impacting 500 people, with San Juan Regional Medical Center stating back then that no less than 500 people were impacted. When the total number of people impacted by a security…

HHS’ Office for Civil Rights Reports 5 Financial Fines for HIPAA Right of Access Violations

The HHS’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is moving forward with its enforcement of the HIPAA Right of Access compliance and has reported 5 more financial penalties. The HIPAA Right of Access enforcement project was started in the autumn of 2019 as a reaction to a considerable number of grievances from patients who didn’t get prompt access to their medical data. The HIPAA Privacy Rule calls for covered entities to give patients access to their health documents. A copy of the health data needs to be delivered within 30 days after the request is made, though a 30-days extension could…

UPMC Hacker Sentenced With 7-Year in Prison

The hacker responsible for getting access to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) databases and stole the W-2 details and personally identifiable information (PII) of roughly 65,000 UPMC workers has been given the maximum sentence for the offenses and will be in jail for 7 years. Sean Johnson, a resident of Detroit, Michigan, also known as TheDearthStar and Dearthy Star – hacked into the UPMC databases in 2013 and 2014 and took highly sensitive data. Then he sold the stolen data on dark web hacking forums. Identity thieves used the information to file fake tax returns in the names…

Healthcare Employees in Minnesota Took Legal Action Against Employers to Stop Vaccine Mandate

A lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court in Minnesota by 180 healthcare employees concerning the COVID-19 vaccine mandates of their company owners. The plaintiffs, who were anonymous in the lawsuit, assert vaccine mandates violate religious freedom and state and federal legislation. The legal case is one of the cases that challenge the legitimacy of this kind of mandate. Vaccines continue to be the most efficient way to avoid the passing on of COVID-19, keep persons from becoming very ill, and lessen the number of people who need to be hospitalized due to the illness. The vaccines are risk-free…

Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-16-21 To Extend Telehealth Protections During PHE

Gavin Newsom, Governor of California, has issued an Executive Order (N-16-21) that allows physicians to provide routine and non-emergency telehealth services without the worry of being sanctioned for inadvertently releasing patient data. This Order extends a similar one that was put in place in April of 2020 during the peak of the pandemic. It was designed to help clinicians extend their telehealth services, allowing patients to receive care with less risk of COVID-19 transmission. This Order gives healthcare providers protection from HIPAA violations for offering telehealth services in good faith. The original order for the use of telehealth was set…

Healthcare Providers Face Legal and Technological Issues Getting CCPA Compliance

Healthcare companies that need to comply with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) are having difficulties getting compliance, as per a new study shared in the Health Policy and Technology – DOI: 10.1016/j.hlpt.2021.100543 The CCPA was made into law on June 28, 2018 and enforced on January 1, 2020. The purpose of the CCPA was to offer California locals more control over their personal records and how their usage. The CCPA provided the residents of California the right to get information with regards to their personal information that will be collected, whether their records may be sold or exposed, to…

St. Joseph’s/Candler Faces Class Action Lawsuit over Ransomware Attack Impacting 1.4 Million Individuals

St. Joseph’s/Candler Hospital Health System is facing a class-action lawsuit because of a ransomware attack that took place on June 17, 2021. Because of the attack, files were encrypted, which forced the hospital to take its IT systems off the internet. The hackers accessed the systems containing the protected health information (PHI) of 1.4 million individuals, such as names, driver license numbers, Social Security numbers, medical insurance data, healthcare information, and financial details. St. Joseph’s/Candler provided impacted patients with an Experian IdentityWorks credit monitoring and identity theft protection service membership for one year. The ransomware attack investigation results confirmed that…

Looking Back at the 25th Anniversary of HIPAA

On August 21, 1996, that is 25 years ago, President Clinton signed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) into law. Not many people then would have thought that the HIPAA would develop into the all-inclusive national health privacy legislation that it is nowadays. It is hard to dispute that the HIPAA isn’t a total success, however, the legislation has drawn a reasonable number of criticism through the years, particularly at first because of the substantial administrative burden it put on healthcare companies. Overall, the enhancements to medical care that have resulted from HIPAA compliance more than offset the…

PHI Exposed Due To Email Account Breaches At A2z Diagnostics And Vision For Hope

A2Z Diagnostics, a specialist diagnostic screening laboratory in New Jersey, started informing patients about the inclusion of some of their protected health information (PHI) in employee email accounts that were accessed by unauthorized individuals. Upon knowing about the breach, A2Z quickly protected the email accounts and third-party cybersecurity experts investigated the breach to ascertain if any emails or attachments were viewed or obtained during the attack. A2Z Diagnostics discovered on June 28, 2021 that the breach of accounts took place from February 2, 2021 to April 2, 2021. Some of the accounts comprised the personal information and PHI of persons…

UPMC Pays $2.65 Million to Settle Employee Data Breach Lawsuit

UPMC has suggested a $2.65 million settlement to close a data breach case filed by workers affected by a data breach in February 2014. UPMC based in Pittsburg, PA submitted a report about the data breach in February 2021 and initially thought the attackers had just taken the tax-data of several hundred of its staff; but, in April 2014, UPMC stated that the breach was much more extensive and impacted 27,000 of its 66,000 workers. In May 2014, UPMC reported that the personal data of all of its workers had probably been breached. The information impacted in the attack included…

CISA’s New Catalog of Cybersecurity Bad Practices to Aid Healthcare Providers

The DHS’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has published a new resource that discusses bad practices in cybersecurity, which are particularly damaging and significantly increase the risk to critical infrastructure. A lot of resources had been published regarding cybersecurity best practices, which if implemented can strengthen security. Even so, CISA thinks another point of view was needed as it is in the same way, if not more, vital to ensure the removal of bad cybersecurity practices. CISA mentioned that stopping the most egregious risks demands that companies should make a decisive effort to stop bad practices. CISA is advocating…

Settlement to Deal With Nebraska Medicine Data Breach Lawsuit Gets Initial Approval

In September 2020, The University Of Nebraska Medical Center And Nebraska Medicine learned that their systems were attacked and infected with malware giving the hackers access to the protected health information (PHI) of around 219,000 persons. The attack pushed Nebraska Medicine to turn off its systems interrupting operations. The attackers primarily obtained access to Nebraska Medicine’s networks on Aug 27, 2020 and for 24 days viewed its systems and patient data. Nebraska Medicine blocked access on Sept. 20, 2020. During that time frame, the lawsuit alleged the hackers exfiltrated patient information. The breach affected patients of Nebraska Medicine, Great Plains…

More Health Insurance Providers Reported Being Affected by Accellion Ransomware Attack and Multiple Lawsuits Filed

The number of healthcare providers to claim they were affected by the Accellion ransomware attack is growing, with two of the newest victims such as Trillium Community Health Plan and Arizona Complete Health. In the later part of December, unauthorized persons took advantage of zero-day vulnerabilities in Accellion’s obsolete File Transfer Appliance platform and stole files of its clients prior to implementing CLOP ransomware. Trillium Community Health Plan lately informed 50,000 of its members that protected health information (PHI) including names, birth dates, addresses, medical insurance ID numbers, and diagnosis and treatment information was acquired by the folks associated with…

Class Action Lawsuit Filed Versus US Fertility In Connection With September 2020 Ransomware Attack

US Fertility is confronted with a class-action lawsuit in connection with a ransomware attack in September 2020, where the resulting data breach impacted 878,550 people. US Fertility offers IT systems and administrative, clinical, and business data services. It is one of the biggest vendors of support services to infertility clinics in America. On September 14, 2020, US Fertility identified ransomware that encrypted files on its systems. The investigation showed that the threat actors responsible for the attack copied files from August 12 to September 14, 2020, a few of which included protected health information (PHI). The types of information acquired…

Brandywine Urology Consultants Data Breach Legal Action Sacked For Insufficient Harm

The Delaware Superior Court dismissed a legal case filed on behalf of affected persons of a Brandywine Urology Consultants data breach after plaintiffs were unable to produce information proving they had sustained harm because of the breach. Brandywine Urology Consultants suffered a ransomware attack on January 27, 2020 The attack was discovered after two days and the following investigation established the attackers acquired access to a system that included patient data. Brandywine Urology Consultants determined from its inquiry that the cyber attack was done for extortion and not just to acquire patient records, though unauthorized data access and data theft…

HITECH Act Amendment To Give Cybersecurity Safe Harbor Now Approved

On January 5, 2020, President Trump approved a bill (HR 7898) that improves the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act) and gives a safe harbor for firms that have carried out accepted security best practices before suffering from a data breach. Though the bill won’t go so far as stopping the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights from issuing financial penalties for HIPAA compliance problems that triggered a data breach, the amendment necessitates OCR to consider the security steps put in place to lessen cybersecurity risk during the one year before…

OCR HIPAA Audits Industry Report Identify Popular Areas of Non-compliance with the HIPAA Regulations

The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights has released its 2016-2017 HIPAA Audits Industry Report, showing areas where HIPAA-covered entities and their business associates are complying or fails to follow the conditions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act mandates the HHS to perform routine audits of HIPAA covered entities and business associates to evaluate HIPAA Policies compliance. Between 2016 and 2017, the HHS carried out its second level of compliance reviews on 166 covered entities and 41 business associates to check compliance with…

Twitter to Pay $544,000 for a GDPR Data Breach Violation

Twitter is going to pay a €450,000 ($544,600) penalty for breaking the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The Ireland Data Protection Commission (DPC) issued the penalty because of the privacy breach report Twitter submitted to the DPC last January 8, 2019. After receiving a breach notification report from Twitter International Company, DPC launched an investigation on January 22, 2019 to find out if Twitter is GDPR compliant. On December 26, 2018, a researcher informed Twitter regarding a problem. Twitter gives its users the choice to send protected Tweets or not. Only a particular group of people or followers can…

Mayo Clinic Faces Multiple Legal Cases Due to Insider Privacy Volation

Mayo Clinic is confronted with multiple class-action lawsuits because of an insider data breach in October 2020. Mayo Clinic learned an ex-worker obtained access to the health data of 1,600 patients with no authorization and viewed details that include patient names, demographic data, dates of birth, clinical notes, medical record numbers, and medical images. As per the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), all HIPAA-covered entities need to employ safety measures to secure the confidentiality, integrity, and privacy of protected health information (PHI) and controls data disclosures and uses if patient permission is not acquired. Healthcare staff are granted…

Final Rules on Safe Harbors for Cybersecurity Donations Published by HHS

On November 20, 2020, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) launched the final rules for enhancing the coordination of health care and lessen regulatory difficulties. The two final rules consist of safe harbor conditions that permit hospitals and healthcare delivery systems to provide cybersecurity technology to physician practices. The CMS launched the final copy of the 627-page Modernizing and Clarifying the Physician Self-Referral Regulations, generally known as Stark Law, and the OIG finalized updates to the 1,049-page Safe Harbors Under the Anti-Kickback Statute and Civil Monetary…

FTC Reaches Settlement with Zoom Over Allegations of Cybersecurity Issues and Misleading Security Practices

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has arrived at a settlement deal with teleconferencing platform provider Zoom to take care of allegations that it misinformed its consumers regarding the level of encryption and did not carry out proper cybersecurity protections for its consumers. Throughout the pandemic, Zoom platform usage exploded as businesses and consumers used the platform to retain communication with family and friends. Remote employees utilized the platform to connect and collaborate with the company while doing work at home. The communication platform turned out to be very well-known in healthcare for offering telehealth services. It is additionally popular in…

ONC Lengthens Due date for Information Blocking and Interoperability Rule Compliance

The due date for compliance with the required information blocking and health IT certification of the 21st Century Cures Act was prolonged as a result of the current coronavirus pandemic. The US Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) published on October 29, 2020 the launch of an interim final rule with the time period for giving comments lengthened the compliance dates and time periods for getting particular information blocking and Conditions and Maintenance of Certification (CoC/MoC) standards. The ONC’s Cures Act Final Rule unveiled on March 9, 2020 outlined exclusions…

Montefiore Medical Center and Geisinger Terminates Personnel for Inappropriate PHI Access

Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, NY has dismissed a staff because of the claimed theft of the protected health information PHI of roughly 4,000 patients. Montefiore knew about the probable internal data breach in July 2020 and started an investigation into unauthorized health record access. Montefiore had put in place a technology solution that monitors EHRs for unauthorized access. Therefore, the personnel was determined. The investigation affirmed that the personnel had gotten access to healthcare records with no valid work reason between January 2018 and July 2020. Accessing the medical records of patients though there isn’t a valid reason for…

Privacy Risks Discovered on Nearly All Sites Providing COVID-19 Information

A new study that JAMA published revealed that nearly all websites providing COVID-19 information include third-party tracking code that presents a risk to privacy. With the tracking code, the web pages could collect information from website visitors and transmit that data to third parties. The transferred data usually includes the URLs visited by a user and his/her IP address. Other data could also be obtained, and that information enables the creation of detailed profiles on the browsing habits and interests of people. Because IP addresses are gathered, that data can quickly be linked with a particular individual. The Carnegie Mellon…

Bill Establishing the Genetic Information Privacy Act Approved by California Senate

A bill (SB-980) that confirms the Genetic Information Privacy Act has been approved by the California Senate. Currently, California Governor Gavin Newsom simply needs to sign the bill. The Genetic Information Privacy Act will bring in new requirements for businesses providing direct-to-customer genetic tests to safeguard consumer privacy and protect personal and genetic data. Presently, direct-to-client genetic testing services are mostly not regulated. There is the worry that the tactics of organizations that provide these services can possibly expose sensitive genetic information and that external parties can exploit the utilize of genetic information for sketchy purposes, for example, mass surveillance,…

What is HIPAA Certification?

What is HIPAA certification? This is a frequently asked question by organizations in the healthcare industry. The HIPAA does not have a standard or implementation requirements for the certification of covered entities or business associates. However, a number of third-party organizations provide HIPAA certification solutions. The HHS does not have any official HIPAA certification procedure or accreditation. If there was, that would be helpful. A HIPAA compliance certification can tell if a Covered Entity or Business Associate is aware of and compliant with HIPPA rules. That would help lessen the amount of time spent doing research on potential vendors. Nevertheless,…

The California Consumer Privacy Act Takes Effect Now

On July 1, 2020, observance of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) of 2018 commenced. The CCPA effectivity was on January 1, 2020, nonetheless, all firms placed under the Act were provided a 6 month grace period to abide by the terms of the CCPA. Considering that the grace period has already lapsed. California Attorney General Xavier Bercerra affirmed that enforcement won’t be postponed, though businesses and trade associations have asked to extend the grace period for an additional 6 months as a result of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus crisis. The requests had been accepted nevertheless there’s no extension granted….

NY District Court Kicks Back Data Breach Lawsuit Against Episcopal Health Services to State Court

Patients of Episcopal Health Services Inc. based in Uniondale, N.Y. filed a lawsuit over the compromise of their personal and protected health information in a phishing attack in 2018. The New York State Supreme Court has kicked back the lawsuit for further proceedings. The lawsuit asserts Episcopal Health Services did not safeguard the private data of its patients from unauthorized exposures. Due to those downfalls, some employee email accounts of Episcopal Health Services experienced a breach between August 28, 2018 and October 5, 2018. The types of information contained in the email accounts included the patients’ names, birth dates, addresses,…

Telehealth Likely to Remain So Better Obtain the Appropriate Technology

This 2020, because of the COVID-19 public health crisis, the HHS’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) widened the coverage of telehealth service by incorporating all Medicare beneficiaries, irrespective of area. Telehealth services do away with the limitations to in-person treatment that the COVID-19 pandemic brought about and make it possible for healthcare providers to offer treatment to patients within their own residences and, in that way, make patient security and regulation of the spread of COVID-19 achievable. The extension of coverage is only implemented during the COVID-19 public health crisis, despite increasing requests that for the extended CMS…

Zoom Gets into Settlement with NY Attorney General Over Privacy and Security Concerns

Zoom got to a deal with the New York Attorney General’s office and has made a commitment to employ better privacy and security measures for its teleconferencing program. New York Attorney General Letitia James investigated Zoom after analysts found a variety of privacy and security problems with the program sometime this year. Zoom has shown to be one of the most widely used teleconferencing systems throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. In March, around 200 million persons were joining Zoom meetings with usership rising by 2,000% in the period of merely 3 months. As more people use Zoom more regularly, flaws in…

OCR Publishes Guidance on Media and Film Crew Members Access to Healthcare Amenities

The HHS’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) published guidance to point out to healthcare organizations that with the HIPAA Privacy Rule, the media and film staff aren’t permitted access to healthcare amenities where the protected health information (PHI) of patients is accessible except if the involved patients have given written permission beforehand. A public health emergency doesn’t adjust the demands of the HIPAA Privacy Rule, which stays in force in emergency scenarios. In 2018, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston Medical Center, and Massachusetts General Hospital were subjected to enforcement actions by OCR after learning they had granted film staff access…

EFF Alerts of Privacy and Security Pitfalls with Apple and Google’s COVID-19 Contact Tracing Solutions

The contact tracing technology that Google and Apple are creating may be helpful in tracking persons who have gotten into close contact with persons verified to be COVID-19 positive; nevertheless, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is cautioning against the probability that hackers would exploit the system in its present form. The technology is set to be available soon. The system will enable app developers to make contact tracing applications to help track down persons who might have been exposed to COVID-19. When a person installs a contact tracing application, every time he/she comes into contact with a man or woman…

HHS’ Office of Inspector General Suggests Regulation for Civil Monetary Penalties for Data Blocking

The HHS’ Office of Inspector General (OIG) proposed a rule on Tuesday that corrects civil monetary penalty regulations to additionally include data blocking. Once enforced, the new CMPs for data blocking is going to be a crucial instrument to guarantee program integrity as well as the stated advantages of technology and data. OIG knows that all through the COVID-19 public health crisis, medical companies are concentrated on delivering treatment and follow-up patient care. OIG is accomplishing its responsibilities by posting the new guideline however is likewise attempting to be as versatile as can be to lessen the load on healthcare…

FBI Alerts of Growing COVID-19 Associated Business Email Compromise Scams

The Federal Bureau of Investigation released an alert subsequent to an increase in Business Email Compromise (BEC) attacks that are capitalizing on the anxiety related to the COVID-19 outbreak. BEC is the word used to pertain to the effort to deceive people in control of doing legit cash transfers into a bank account managed by the attacker. This is attained by impersonating somebody within the firm that the victim typically performs business with. A normal attack case entails mailing an email to somebody in the finance team asking to alter a bank account detail for an impending payment. A few…

Enhanced Telehealth Services and Laid-Back HIPAA Enforcement Throughout the Coronavirus Public Health Emergency

In seeking to avoid the spreading of the 2019 novel coronavirus, patients alleged of having been exposed to the virus and persons with indications of COVID-19 were instructed to self-quarantine by staying at home. It is necessary for contact to be avoided with persons at an increased risk, especially aged people and persons with health issues. Telehealth services, which include video calls, are handy tools for medical specialists when evaluating and treating patients at a distance to lower the possibility of getting infected by the coronavirus. Telehealth services could also be employed to keep contact with patients who opt not…

Google Charged with About $8 Million GDPR Fine

The Swedish Data Protection Authority (DPA) issued Google a 75 million kroner ($7.8 million) GDPR penalty for failing to comply with the right-to-be-forgotten’ requests coming from European Union residents to take out webpages from its search result pages. The right to be forgotten in the European Union exists prior to GDPR. It was initially included in EU laws in 2014 after a judgment by the European Court of Justice concerning the lawsuit, Google Spain SL, Google Inc vs Agencia Española de Protección de Datos, Mario Costeja González. The rules require search engines to take out hyperlinks to freely accessible websites…

Quest Diagnostics Settlement of 2016 Data Breach Finally Approved

A federal judge has finally approved the settlement concerning Quest Diagnostics Inc. to take care of a class-action lawsuit connected with its 2016 data breach. The medical lab company in New Jersey is going to pay a $195,000 settlement, which allocates to each breach victim about $325 compensation. On November 26, 2016, the attackers accessed the Care360 MyQuest mobile application that patients use to save and share their digital test results and schedule visits. The health application saved names, phone numbers, birth dates, and laboratory test findings which, for certain patients, listed their HIV test findings. The breach impacted 34,000…

Dealing with the Communication Challenges in Healthcare

Based on the latest TigerConnect research, 52% of healthcare companies encounter communication problems that badly affect patients day by day or a number of times each week. These communication issues are a reason for annoyance for healthcare personnel. They make it harder to organize patient care, hence resulting in mistakes with patient care. Actually, the consequence of awful communication is substantial and has an effect on the whole institution. At best, ineffectiveness in communication leads to slowdowns that boost the expenditure of giving healthcare. At worst, awful communication increases avoidable medical flaws, doctor burnout and, in the most severe instances,…

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