Breaking Compliance News Blog

HIPAA Reminder: Paper Still Counts

Posted by Margaret Scavotto, JD, CHC on 6/21/22 11:40 AM

Lately, my inbox is flooded with warnings, reminders, and webinars about cybersecurity. Rightly so: cyberattacks are on the rise, and healthcare remains the #1 target. At MPA, we recently updated our HIPAA Security Risk Analysis, and we carefully documented every source of electronic PHI.

But: Paper still counts.

With so much of our efforts focused on cybersecurity and electronic PHI, we can’t lose sight of the risks posed by paper PHI. For example:

  • A patient went to the emergency department at a hospital to get her blood pressure checked. While there, her nurse wrote down the blood pressure result on a piece of paper. The patient noticed that the other side of the paper listed another patient’s name, number, address, and positive HIV status. 
  • A health system “became aware of a break-in to an off-site storage facility where certain limited patient records were housed. Six boxes of paper documents were removed from the facility without authorization.” 

In the HIPAA world, paper PHI still counts! Make sure your HIPAA security risk analysis and mitigation plan include paper PHI in addition to electronic PHI.

  • Remember:
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Topics: HIPAA, security, privacy

“That’s so cute!” (if there’s a HIPAA authorization)

Posted by Margaret Scavotto, JD, CHC on 6/14/22 11:17 AM

 

Are you on TikTok?
 
I’m not (although I hear it’s worth it for the air fryer recipes).
 
But everyone else is, including an increasing number of healthcare professionals and healthcare providers.
 
Social media use increased during the early pandemic days as a way to connect with the world from inside locked down facilities. It also brings a healthy dose of levity.
 
For example:
  • A nursing home’s videos of residents enjoying therapy dogs Floyd and Loki went viral on TikTok. 
  • Last Thanksgiving, one nursing home’s TikTok video of the administrator dressed as a Thanksgiving turkey went viral. 
  • In a Scotland nursing home, a 102-year-old resident ‘s daily exercise dance routine – done with two nurses – was posted to TikTok. In the video, the resident and two of his caregivers are seen dancing. The home claims the videos “have been a great way to get the residents up and moving, and they’ve loved taking part.”
I love these videos! They are so cute. And they are okay to use – IF the patients signed a valid HIPAA authorization before the videos were taken.
 
Without a HIPAA authorization, the cute factor fades, and we are left with a potential HIPAA breach to investigate.
 
Thinking of going viral? Have fun – but make sure everyone involved understands the HIPAA consequences.

What you can do:

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Topics: Training and Education, HIPAA, Social Media, security, privacy

Last Chance: Sign up for MPA's Virtual HIPAA Training!

Posted by Margaret Scavotto, JD, CHC on 6/7/22 12:03 PM

HIPAA is a lot!

MPA's e-course makes it easier to keep up with privacy, security, breach notification, and social media.

Sign up for MPA's Virtual HIPAA Training Course

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Topics: Training and Education, HIPAA, Social Media, security, breach notification, privacy, webinar

Cold Hard HIPAA Stats: Where Do You Stand?

Posted by Scott Gima on 5/25/22 1:15 PM

HIPAA risks change constantly – and so must our response to them. The latest HIPAA statistics reveal how HIPAA risk is shifting (and increasing):

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Topics: HIPAA, security

Sign up for MPA's Virtual HIPAA Training!

Posted by Margaret Scavotto, JD, CHC on 5/19/22 8:45 AM

HIPAA is a lot!

MPA's e-course makes it easier to keep up with privacy, security, breach notification, and social media.

Sign up for MPA's Virtual HIPAA Training Course

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Topics: Training and Education, HIPAA, Social Media, security, breach notification, privacy, webinar

When Senior Tech Support Scams are a Cybersecurity/HIPAA Issue

Posted by Scott Gima on 5/10/22 9:45 AM

The FTC regularly sends out consumer alerts on various scams. Turbo Tax’s “free” tax service and car dealer junk add-on fees are just a couple of recent alerts. Many times, these emails hit the trash bin after reading the subject line. This morning, my inbox had the FTC’s latest alert: Shutting Down Tech Support Scams. This morning was different – I opened the email and read the alert. Why? Because an older family member was a victim of a tech support scam.

First, let me tell you about my family member’s experience with a tech support scam. Some of the facts have been changed to protect the family member’s identity. But to make it easier, let’s call my family member Mom. Mom and Dad are retired and in their 80s. A few years ago, my family went to Mom and Dad’s house for Thanksgiving. While there, other siblings and cousins are discussing possible Christmas gifts, so I jump on Mom’s computer to do a little online shopping.

In the bottom right-hand corner, the Windows task bar typically has a bunch of icons that show programs that are loaded on startup. Mom’s taskbar showed a TeamViewer icon. TeamViewer is a legitimate remote desktop program that is typically used by tech support people to obtain remote access to a workstation, computer or laptop. I recognized the icon because TeamViewer has been used by our own company’s tech support. But there is no reason for Mom to have this program on her home computer. So I start asking questions and this is what I learned.

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Topics: HIPAA, security

Sign up for MPA's Virtual HIPAA Training!

Posted by Margaret Scavotto, JD, CHC on 5/4/22 8:15 AM

HIPAA is a lot!

MPA's e-course makes it easier to keep up with privacy, security, breach notification, and social media.

Sign up for MPA's Virtual HIPAA Training Course

Read More

Topics: Training and Education, HIPAA, Social Media, security, breach notification, privacy, webinar

What the Russia-Ukraine Conflict Means for Your Cybersecurity

Posted by Scott Gima on 3/22/22 8:15 AM

 

I recently had a conversation with Scott Wolff, President and owner of LanServ, a St. Louis IT and managed service provider. Scott was a recent guest expert for a MPA webinar that discussed HIPAA Security Risk Assessment and cybersecurity.

I asked Scott if there has been an increase in cyber threat activity as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Surprisingly, Scott has so far found a significant decrease in hacker activity with his clients. Maybe all the hackers are focused on Russia and Ukraine, but regardless of the reason, it is very easy for organizations to let their guard down.

Coincidently, the same thing was discussed earlier this week with some members of Congress who received a briefing on the elevated Russia cyber threat to the US. Former Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Director Chris Krebs led the briefing which was closed to the public. The Washington Post was able to speak to Krebs after the briefing. He is worried about complacency. He told the Post “We have been talking with some alarm for weeks, if not months, about the potential Russian threat and fatigue is real and the desensitization to ongoing activities that are happening elsewhere is real.”

Krebs also stated: “the Russian cyberthreat as especially elevated now because Putin has already demonstrated he’s willing to cross Western red lines by invading Ukraine.”

I agree with Krebs. Just because cyberattacks have not yet occurred against the United States, organizational efforts to improve cybersecurity should continue and be responsive to new threats. This is especially true for critical infrastructure entities including health care providers.

I asked Scott Wolff, President/Director of IT Operations for LanServ, Inc., for his take on the situation:

The current reduction in cyber security events started a few weeks ago, and appears to coincide with the Russian invasion of Ukraine.  To many of us this may provide a much needed break from responding to the high volume increase in cyber security events over the last few years, and thus take the time to kick back and breathe a little bit. 

However, I am approaching this temporary reduction in events as a “quiet before the storm scenario.”  Currently, I am spending even more time than normal implementing additional security measures, as well as learning from the Russian cyber-attacks against Ukraine to build future cyber defenses should these same cyber-attacks be used against us.  There is no better time than now to assess your overall network system security, and user password hygiene before the storm potentially heads back this way.

What you can do

Discuss cyber threats with your IT team or managed service provider. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) provides security updates and free resources. With a high threat level, now is the perfect time to update your HIPAA Security Risk Analysis.

Need more HIPAA help? MPA can help with t he HIPAA Security Risk Analysis.

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Topics: HIPAA, security, compliance

Cold hard HIPAA stats

Posted by Margaret Scavotto & Scott Gima on 1/25/22 8:15 AM

As we enter a new year, it’s a good time to review the status of data breaches, HIPAA hazards, and the state of security risk with some statistics:

  • The average cost of a data breach in the United States is $9.05 million. The average cost is higher in organizations with greater compliance failures.

  • Only 25% of employees are “very confident” they can identify a social engineering attack.

  • 76% of healthcare employees have received security awareness training. That means 24% have not.

  • 24% of employees believe “clicking on a suspicious link or attachment in an email represents little or no risk.”

  • Only 31% of employees think “allowing family members of friends to use work devices for personal activities outside of work” is risky.

  • In the past 12 months, 94% of organizations have had an insider data breach. The most common cause is human error.
  • As many as 90% of data breaches are phishing attacks

It is always eye-opening to review the latest HIPAA stats – because they get colder and harder every year. Especially in healthcare.

What you can do

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Topics: HIPAA, data breach, security

When HIPAA security is a public health issue

Posted by Margaret Scavotto & Scott Gima on 1/18/22 9:00 AM

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Topics: HIPAA, data breach, security, compliance, webinar

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