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January 2015

HIPAA privacy laws more relevant than ever

I was knee-deep covering hospital regulations in the early 2000s when Uncle Sam first released HIPAA privacy laws, and the initial reaction from healthcare organizations ranged from intrigue to panic. At that point, most medical records existed only on paper. Fast forward 15 years. Just as the Founding Fathers could not have fully anticipated how the U.S. Constitution would apply to modern life, the authors of HIPAA probably didn't foresee how today's technology intersects with protected health information. As CIOs grapple with the promise and risks of electronic access to medical records, pressure is rapidly building on doctors and physician practices to firm up privacy compliance now that the drumbeat of federal HIPAA audits gets louder. In this issue of Pulse, reporter Shaun Sutner examines how to survive a HIPAA audit. The 2015 audit program from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights (OCR) affects 400 providers, many of which are not fully prepared for their reviews. The OCR won't predict ...

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