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January 2015

As HIPAA audits loom, most docs remain unprepared

It may surprise doctors to learn that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights is about to launch its first formal round of HIPAA compliance audits. In a 2014 survey of more than 1,000 healthcare providers and administrators, only 32% of the respondents had any inkling of the HIPAA audits that will hit some 400 healthcare providers and 150 of their business associates in 2015. Even if doctors and physician practices know about the audits and HIPAA requirements that they must meet, most non-hospital healthcare providers aren't ready, HIPAA audit experts say. And that puts those "covered entities," as HIPAA refers to most physicians and healthcare systems, at risk for hefty fines if they are chosen for a random audit and fail. "Pity the poor guy who got selected," said Daniel Brown, an Atlanta lawyer who specializes in healthcare law, including HIPAA audits. "But the goal is to make sure folks are in substantial compliance. I don't think it's going to be a 'gotcha' situation." The good news is that...

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