Several HIPAA Compliance Trends Likely To Affect Medical Practices in 2016

January 13, 2016 – In The News
Medical Practice Compliance Alert

Elizabeth G. Litten and Michael J. Kline were featured in the Medical Practice Compliance Alert article, “6 Compliance Trends Likely to Affect Your Practices in 2016.” Full text can be found in the January 13, 2016, issue, but a synopsis is below.

Medical Practice Compliance Alert asked health law professionals to make predictions on matters such as HIPAA enforcement, the involvement of federal agencies in privacy and data security and actions related to the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

Prediction: Privacy and data enforcement actions will receive more attention from federal agencies outside of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR).

In light of the amount of breaches that took place in 2015, the New Year will most likely see an increase of HIPAA enforcement. However, regulators outside of health care – such as the Department of Homeland Security, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Communications Commission – also try to extend their foothold into the health care compliance realm, much in a way that the Federal Trade Commission has, according to Fox Rothschild’s Michael Kline.

Prediction: The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the OCR will focus more on individual liability.

In September of 2015, the DOJ announced through the Yates Memo, that it would be shifting its strategy to hold individuals to a higher level of accountability for an entity’s wrongdoing. The OCR has also mentioned that it will focus more on individuals who violate HIPAA. “They’re trying to put the fear in smaller entities. A small breach is as important as a big one,” says Fox Rothschild’s Elizabeth Litten.

Prediction: OCR will examine business associate relationships.

The HIPAA audit program, which has been delayed by the OCR, will be rolled out in 2016 and will scrutinize several small business associates. In turn, all business associate relationships will receive increased attention.

“There will be more focus on how you selected and use a business associate and what due diligence you use,” says Kline. “People also will be more careful about reviewing the content of business associate agreements and determining whether one between the parties is needed.”