When a thief broke into “Breaking Bad” star Bryan Cranston’s car earlier this year and took his iPad and a script from the show’s coming season, the media seized on the potential secrets that had been leaked.
For health care providers, secret leaking can have far more serious consequences than making the news on “Entertainment Tonight” or bad TV ratings; violating patients’ rights to privacy can mean literally millions of dollars in fines.
A Massachusetts medical care provider was ordered last fall to pay the federal government $1.5 million to settle potential violations of the Privacy and Security Rules of 1996’s Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
The case began when a laptop with unencrypted, protected health information – including prescriptions and clinical data – was stolen.
In announcing the settlement, the Department of Health and Human Services stated that Massachusetts medical care provider had “failed to take necessary steps to comply with requirements of the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rule, such as conducting a thorough analysis of the risk to the confidentiality of electronic protected health information (ePHI) maintained on portable devices, implementing security measures sufficient to ensure the confidentiality of ePHI that [the firm] created, maintained and transmitted using portable devices, adopting and implementing policies and procedures to restrict access to ePHI to authorized users of portable devices, and adopting and implementing policies and procedures to address security incident identification, reporting, and response.”
Proper security protocols can ensure your firm protects the privacy of your patients and stays on the good side of the Department of Health and Human Services.