What’s ahead for HIPAA enforcement in 2017?

What’s ahead for HIPAA enforcement in 2017?

What will the new year bring in HIPAA enforcement? That’s the big question that’s been on our minds, and the minds of many in the healthcare industry lately.

Some point to the new political environment favoring a rolling back of HIPAA regulation enforcement. With the head of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) head stepping down before the new administration is sworn in, some wonder whether there will be a rush to fill the role.

The fact is the OCR settled eleven cases last year. These settlements included resolution agreements and corrective plans on behalf of the parties mentioned. Earlier in the year, an administrative law judge sided with the OCR in a case involving a home healthcare and medical equipment supplier. This was after the agency served the provider with a large penalty.

Going as far back as the summer of 2015, OCR has collected over $27 million in penalties. From close compliance reviews to compelling organizations to update their compliance policies, OCR has been quite busy behind the scenes reshaping the way companies do business within the current regulatory framework.

The OCR points to a number of breaches to explain the reasons behind its actions. Still, recent guidance issued by the agency is pointing to a new era of enforcement where healthcare technologies are concerned. One area they highlighted was in working with people with disabilities.

Per their recent statements, some believe the agency may be considering using their authority under the Americans with Disabilities Act to take action against organizations not in compliance with the accessibility mandate of the act.

As to where OCR guidance will wind up in 2017, only time will tell. The agency issued HIPAA guidance on everything from cloud computing to cyber security frameworks to health information exchanges. Their to-do list ran quite the gamut throughout 2016.

Rest assured, whatever happens, we’ll be reporting it to you right here at the ChartFast blog.