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HIPAA Business Associate Agreement: Do I Need One?

Thursday, July 12th, 2018

A business associate (BA) is an individual or an entity who could come in contact with protected health information (PHI) by providing services to or performing activities on behalf of covered entities. Your employee is not a business associate, but your web host, email encryption service, billing company and lawyers could be, and these are just four examples. BAs of BAs (BA’s contracting with your vendors) further extend the chain.

Not all entities that access PHI must be business associates. For instance, the cleaning company that disposes trash from your office does not qualify as a business associate even though there is a possibility of the cleaning crew coming in contact with identifying patient information in dustbins or laying on FAX machines or desks (though if they do, then your employees did not manage the PHI properly). However, it is important to have a clear reporting mechanism in place where cleaning company workers can alert a point person in your office when they come across PHI.

Business associate agreement do I need one?

The Omnibus Rule provides multiple categories of business associates, including health information organizations (HIOs), anyone offering personal health records to individuals on behalf of covered entities, and covers a variety of service categories such as data aggregation, accreditation, actuarial and administrative services dispensed to a covered entity provided such services involve the disclosure of patient health information. Use this link for more information on business associates.

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How Is HIPAA-Compliant Email Different from Secure Email?

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

Protected health information (PHI) is heavily regulated under HIPAA, but the exact details can be confusing. The regulations are designed to keep everyone’s private information safe, but they also put a significant amount of responsibility on businesses.

HIPAA regulations apply to just about every aspect of a person’s medical information, including their transit, storage and security. Because email is such an important and extensively-used form of communication, HIPAA regulations apply to it as well.

HIPAA-compliant email vs secure email

Some may think that secure and encrypted email is all you need to keep PHI safe and emails compliant. The reality is that HIPAA email regulations go above and beyond standard secure email. To protect your business, you need to make sure that your email provider is HIPAA-compliant, not just secure.

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What is HIPAA-Compliant Cloud Storage?

Friday, November 11th, 2016

HIPAA-compliant cloud storage complies with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) to ensure the security of healthcare patients’ data stored on remote servers accessed from the internet.

HIPAA governs how healthcare providers and their business associates, as defined in the Act, can store, manage, and share personal health information (PHI). If you’re a healthcare provider (or a cloud storage provider working with a healthcare provider), it’s important to understand how HIPAA applies to cloud storage.

With the rising popularity of services like iCloud and Dropbox, many people and companies have become more comfortable with cloud storage. There’s no question these services are convenient; being able to access universally synced data anytime, anywhere, from any device, is incredible.

HIPAA-compliant cloud storage

But that doesn’t mean these services are HIPAA-compliant. HIPAA introduces particular requirements that not every cloud storage provider satisfies.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming that a particular cloud storage option will comply with HIPAA. Storing your data “in the cloud” can make it difficult to achieve the level of security required of healthcare.

Here’s what you need to know about cloud storage to make sure your data is safe and sound — and HIPAA-compliant.

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Google Apps HIPAA Compliance Gotchas: Email encryption not included and higher price

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

There has been a lot of hype about Google offering a Business Associate Agreement to paid Google Apps customers who must abide by HIPAA regulations.  Those who are familiar with Google may be under the incorrect assumption that simply signing up for Google Apps will solve all their HIPAA compliance challenges.  This seems to be increasingly less likely as of October, 2014.

Myths and hidden costs pervade this equation. If a HIPAA-aspiring entity isn’t fully educated about the finer details of the compliance process, they could end up paying very large amounts of money for Google services and still be non-compliant. Here we discuss some misconceptions about Google services as they apply to HIPAA to help you avoid the pitfalls of non-compliance.

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5 Things Everyone with HIPAA Email Should be Doing

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Ok — So you have “HIPAA Compliant Email” because you just signed up with a company that says they handle that.  One thing checked off of your “to do” list and on to the next.

Well, not so fast.

HIPAA is a complex beast, as you are probably already aware.  Just signing up for a service that claims to be HIPAA compliant does not mean that you are done.  You may need to:

  1. Learn nuances of what you can and can’t do in order to remain compliant
  2. Train yourself and your staff on these nuances
  3. Make sure that you have purchased all of the things needed by your organization for your particular compliance goals
  4. Ensure that you have set things up properly with your systems and at your new vendor

Here are some of the top things that everyone who has HIPAA-compliant email really should be doing:

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Is Blackberry HIPAA Compliant? What You Need To Know

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

We are often approached by customers wanting to use their blackberry mobile devices to send and receive email that may contain electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI).  Such customers, when they must abide by the HIPAA and HITECH laws governing medical privacy, must comply with a long set of regulations that covers, among other things, how ePHI may be transmitted over the Internet.

This article deals with the security of sending and receiving email on a Blackberry configured for Internet email services (i.e. it does not apply to those connecting to an Blackberry Enterprise Server and Exchange).

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HIPAA HITECH Business Associate Agreement and LuxSci Account Requirements

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

Changes to HIPAA as a result of HITECH provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are going into effect on February 17, 2010.  These changes seriously impact the requirements on Business Associates and impose significant liability penalties on HIPAA violations.  For a discussion of these and how they relate to email and web services, see: HITECH 2010: HITECH Impact on Email and Web Outsourcing.

In response to these changes and to ensure that both LuxSci and its HIPAA customers are HIPAA-compliant:

  • Old BAA Void: All Business Associate Agreements (BAA), formerly known as Medical Privacy Agreements, that current LuxSci customers have by virtue of the old BAA being incorporated automatically in LuxSci’s Master Services Agreement are VOID as of February 17th, 2010.
  • New BAA Required: Any LuxSci Customer who is using or plans to use LuxSci for ePHI (electronic protected health information) of any kind (i.e. email, web sites, WebAides, databases, etc) must explicitly sign our new BAA and ARA (Account Restrictions Agreement) before LuxSci will consider itself a Business Associate and the customer’s LuxSci account HIPAA compliant.

LuxSci will be contacting customers that it believes might need to sign a BAA and ARA during the month of February.  However, as LuxSci does not know which customers are using their account(s) for storage or transmission of ePHI, it is up to our customers to contact LuxSci to establish a BAA.

See:

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