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Business Associate Agreements: Fact vs Fiction

Tuesday, August 28th, 2018

HIPAA covered entities form partnerships with third parties to safeguard their data assets effectively. Business associate agreements (BAAs) formalize these relationships and, importantly, describe the HIPAA-related risks and responsibilities that business associates (BAs) will take on.

The written contract between the covered entity and business associate must meet the following requirements:

business associate agreement

  1. State the permitted and required uses and disclosure of PHI by the BA.
  2. Assure that the BA will not use or share information other than as required or permitted by the contract or by law.
  3. Require the BA to implement suitable safeguards to prevent the unauthorized use of information, including deploying the requirements of the HIPAA Security Rule as it relates to protected health information.
  4. Report to the covered entity any use or disclosure of information not provided for by the contract.
  5. Agree to disclose PHI to meet the covered entity’s obligation to provide individuals a copy of their PHI, and also either provide PHI for amendments or incorporate amendments.
  6. Adhere to the requirements of the Privacy Rule to the extent required.
  7. Provide to the Department of Health and Human Services records, practices and books related to the use and disclosure of PHI.
  8. At the termination of the contract, destroy or return all PHI created or received by the BA on behalf of the covered entity.
  9. Ensure that any subcontractors the BA engages must comply with substantially the same conditions and restrictions that apply to the BA.
  10. Authorize termination of the contract by the covered entity if the BA violates a material term of the contract.

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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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