MACRA 2017 deadlines are coming. Do you have a Security Risk Assessment scheduled before December 31st?

Right now the healthcare industry is in the final race to complete the requirements for MACRA, the new reimbursement scheme for Medicare. Thousands of dollars are at risk – failing to satisfy the MACRA requirements in 2017 will result in payment reductions for all of 2019!Submerged within the 2,398 pages of MACRA lies a key requirement for eligibility - completing a security risk assessment (SRA). The SRA is a “core requirement.”  Without an SRA, a healthcare practice can undo all their other eff ...

It is Time for Us to Take Control of Our Data!

The EquiFax breach really has me angry.  Mostly because I have no control over any aspect of this mess.  EquiFax scoops up data on all of us without our consent.  They seem unaccountable and untouchable.   With a last name like mine, I’ve had many opportunities to dispute incorrect data on my credit reports, which is always time consuming and irritating.  They make it known how unimportant you are and assume you are “guilty” unless you prove otherwise.  They collect data on all the people in th ...

Healthy Skepticism – Your Best Cyber Defense

It's no longer news that most of us are uber-connected. We use phone apps for weather, meditation, mapping, games, travel, texting, and more.  Online management of home devices, including thermostats, coffee makers, and alarm systems make it possible for us to remotely control many aspects of our lives. These technologies offer previously unthinkable convenience – and a great deal of risk to their owner's physical and information security.Healthcare, too, is becoming more connected for all the s ...

Cybersecurity: It’s a healthcare risk issue

Wannacry may be the best thing that has happened to the healthcare industry in a long time. It brought to light just how terrible a job the industry does in protecting patients from identity theft.  That's what it means to lose a patient's protected health information or PHI. PHI is now a currency on the black market.  It is worth over a 100 times the value of a credit card record.  If you're a covered entity (healthcare plan, healthcare clearing house, or healthcare provider) or a business associate ...

Missing the HIPAA Target – Part 4

In my first blog of this series, I stated that the intent of HIPAA was not to make you an expert on regulations, but to guide you to be risk management proficient, which is the ability to recognize threats and risks to your practice and manage them to eliminate or minimize their impact.  The next installment was accountability; taking ownership and delivering verifiable results.  This was followed by the importance of training.  What is the next?Well, you need to know how to identify risks and th ...

Care Disruption – The Ultimate Security Risk

We in the cybersecurity and HIPAA compliance communities talk a lot about breaches and fines and total costs of breach remediation - yadda, yadda, yadda. All non-trivial realities to be sure, but when the WannaCry ransomware attack paralyzed hospitals and physician practices and pharmacies and surgery centers around the globe, I was thinking about the members of the care team. Elective surgeries can be postponed and lots of routine wellness services, such as eye exams and hearing tests and school physic ...

HHS OCR: PHI Security is your top priority

If you haven't noticed, cybersecurity is a major issue in the world, politically, economically, and even personally.  No one wants their identity stolen.  No business wants to deal with customer (patient) retaliation caused from losing their personal health information, whether it's boycotting, bad press, negative social media or a class action lawsuit.In general the U.S. government is taking action to help protect small businesses by requesting a new standard cybersecurity guide be written by the Nat ...

Missing the Target of HIPAA – Part 3

If you haven't read my previous two blogs on this topic I encourage you to do so.  The first blog stresses the importance of being risk management proficient over being a HIPAA “expert”. The second blog deals with being accountable in your work actions, which means not only are you responsible for your actions, but your actions can be independently verified.  These two “factors” can go a long way to protecting your organization from the risks of a breach and from substantial penalties and fine ...

Cybersecurity: Have you hardened your systems?

We perform HIPAA Risk Assessments (Security Risk Analysis) for very small practices to large healthcare organizations, plus business associates that include software, big data, and marketing companies.  We know the focus of the assessment needs to be security; therefore, we run an industry standard (NIST based) scan checking computers for HIPAA compliance.  (NIST stands for National Institute of Standards and Technology) Our findings show that the average covered entity is about 15% compliant and the ...

HIMSS17 – OCR’s Expectations for HIPAA Compliance

Lessons Learned at HIMSS17 The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) made it clear at HIMSS17 - it’s time for the healthcare industry to take action NOW.  Here are the top messages we heard across multiple presentations by HHS (OCR, CMS), FDA, FTC, law firms, and cyber security firms. The following were made very clear to attendees.  Please note, these are not all from HHS, some were heard multiple times from various sources.  The point is, learn and take action.Ignorance of the HIPAA law is no e ...

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