Data Breach, News Events, Risk Analysis/Risk Management

Sutter Health Breach Update

This past week, Sutter Health released a statement stating that they are notifying 2,582 patients that personal information was included in billing documents a former employee emailed to their personal account without authorization. For all but two of the affected patients, no Social Security numbers, financial information or driver’s license data were included.

Despite the incident occurring on April 23, 2013, the breach was only discovered “during a thorough review of the former employee’s email activity and computer access.” The internal investigation began on August 27, 2015, more than two years after the incident. What stands out in this instance was the inability for Sutter Health to discover, mitigate, and remediate this incident within a reasonable timeframe. When it comes to HIPAA, breaches must be reported to HHS and the individuals affected without unreasonable delay and in no case later than 60 days following discovery of a breach or when it reasonably should have been known that a breach occurred.

The last point is key and clearly indicates the need for tools that allow organizations to better understand when PHI or other types of sensitive data leave their network. The best option to track and stop data from leaving your network is a Data Loss Prevention (DLP) solution. In this incident, the third large data breach involving Sutter Health, they have found “no evidence that any of the patient information was used or disclosed to others.” Since the data was sent to a personal email account, it is unlikely, truly impossible, that Sutter Health can determine with 100% certainty that the patient information was not disclosed inappropriately and this is reflected in their offering affected individuals one year of free credit monitoring.

In some other breach cases, however, data is available to forensically determine with certainty what happened after a breach occurred, and sometimes long after a breach occurred. If this is the case, then the information existed when the breach actually occurred. The takeaway in those instances is that logs or other forensic data were not reviewed proactively to catch the breach sooner.  In a digital information world with bigger and bigger data hurtling down the road faster and faster, no one seems to be watching the gauges for trouble!

With the many tools available and the ease with which an employee can move data outside of an organization, a DLP solution is a necessity. Not only would your organization be able to watch sensitive information flowing into, throughout, and out of your network without impacting performance, you can lock down many of those outlets for data leakage. In addition to performing a HIPAA Risk Analysis and publishing policies and procedures, DLP can help your organization maintain compliance with regulations such as HIPAA, Red Flags Rule, PCI, and other state and Federal privacy regulations. As the costs for remediating a breach rise, DLP becomes a more prudent decision that can offer real value as well as peace of mind.

If you are interested in learning more about DLP or other related services, contact RISC Management and Consulting, LLC at 800.648.4358 or visit www.RISCsecurity.com.

 

References

http://news.sutterhealth.org/2015/09/11/sutter-health-informs-patients-of-unauthorized-document-handling-by-former-billing-unit-employee/

http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/administrative/breachnotificationrule/

Advertisements
Cyber Security, Data Breach, Education, News Events, Risk Analysis/Risk Management

Breach Update

There have been multiple breaches in the news recently, headlined by the hack of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) that exposed the information of potentially 18 million people at last tally. It was also recently announced that Blue Shield of California had also experienced a minor breach that affected 843 individuals through a coding error on one of their secure web sites. Within the past month, other notorious events included breach alerts from password manager LastPass and the Houston Astros, a professional MLB club.

While the cause may be different (or still unknown) for each of these events, they can all serve one purpose for any organization: take security seriously. Potential risks exist internally and externally for any organization that maintains or processes important and valuable data such as electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI). With the black market value of health records on the rise, it is imperative for all organizations to make efforts to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and appropriate availability of sensitive data.

Straightforward steps towards building or maintaining a successful security program always start with a Risk Analysis. Without quantifying the potential risks to your organization, it is difficult to make informed decisions, especially when trying to purchase the right tools or delegate your workforce efforts. The next step is generally to analyze your policies and procedures. These documents state your organizations intent to comply with applicable regulations or frameworks. Maintaining up-to-date procedures is important for ensuring continuity in all of your regular processes and saves valuable time. Once each of the above has been addressed, it is then time to train your workforce. This accomplishes a number of goals including increasing the effectiveness of security controls, improving workforce efficiency, and protecting the organization in the event of a breach or other security incident.

These are just the first steps towards building a security program; there are a number of other technical, administrative, and physical controls that must be implemented to avoid breaches and comply with the standards and regulations of your industry. However, without these building blocks for long-term success, it might not be farfetched to find your organization on the OCR’s Wall of Shame.

To find help with a third-party Risk Analysis, policies and procedures, training, or any other security controls, contact RISC Management & Consulting today!

Meaningful Use, News Events

Changes to Meaningful Use Reporting in 2015

New rules expected to arrive sometime this spring should reduce the 2015 Meaningful Use reporting period to just 90 days from the previously required full year. Many hospitals and health IT organizations were clamoring for a change to reduce the reporting burden for eligible providers and hospitals.

This change and the other proposals listed below will potentially help many providers who have already made steps towards implementing EHR systems but were not capable of reporting for the full year.

  • Realigning hospital reporting periods to the calendar year to allow eligible hospitals more time to incorporate 2014 Edition software into their workflows and to better align with other quality program.
  • Modifying other aspects of the programs to match long-term goals, reduce complexity and lessen providers’ reporting burden

The new rules are a welcome reaction to a letter written to CMS this past September co-signed by healthcare industry heavyweights CHIME, HIMSS, MGMA, AHA, and the AMA, urging the agency to address 2015 reporting period requirements. While adoption of EHRs has risen steadily since the first year of the EHR Incentive Program, many providers are struggling to provide all the necessary information in the time frame required. The letter proposed that HHS should “provide for a shortened, 90-day EHR reporting period in 2015, which would give time for providers to continue their transition without having to drop out of the program.”

The new rule “would be intended to be responsive to provider concerns about software implementation, information exchange readiness, and other related concerns in 2015,” wrote Patrick Conway, MD, chief medical officer at CMS, in a Jan. 29 blog post announcing the agency’s decision. “It would also be intended to propose changes reflective of developments in the industry and progress toward program goals achieved since the program began in 2011.”

 

Source: http://blog.cms.gov/2015/01/29/cms-intends-to-modify-requirements-for-meaningful-use/

Data Breach, HIPAA / HITECH Enforcement, News Events

An Employee Mistake Leads to a HIPAA Data Breach

Just last month, a Pennsylvania-based hospital suffered a breach of patient data caused by unauthorized access and transmission of PHI by an employee. The 551-bed Penn State Milton S. Hershey hospital discovered through an internal investigation that a lab technician accessed and transmitted protected health data outside of the hospital’s secure network. The key in this breach was that the employee was authorized to work with PHI but in this case did not access and transmit the PHI securely. He used his own USB device and sent patient data through his own personal email address to two physicians.

The important thing to note in this situation is what your organization can do to avoid a situation like this: train your workforce. Not only is workforce training required by HIPAA, it is a prudent means of improving efficiency and confidence in your workforce. Many organizations believe that their biggest threat lies outside their walls. While it is a smart business decision to implement security controls to prevent intrusions from external threats, your organization should also prioritize properly training your workforce. Below is a list of the most investigated issues as noted in the OCR Enforcement highlights.

 

From OCR Enforcement highlights:

From the compliance date to the present, the compliance issues investigated most are, compiled cumulatively, in order of frequency:

  1. Impermissible uses and disclosures of protected health information;
  2. Lack of safeguards of protected health information;
  3. Lack of patient access to their protected health information;
  4. Uses or disclosures of more than the minimum necessary protected health information; and
  5. Lack of administrative safeguards of electronic protected health information.

Security Rule Enforcement Results as of the Date of This Summary

With regard to the subset of complaints specifically pertaining to the Security Rule, since the OCR began reporting its Security Rule enforcement results in October 2009, HHS has received approximately 880 complaints alleging a violation of the Security Rule. During this period, HHS closed 644 complaints after investigation and appropriate corrective action. As of May 31, 2014, OCR had 301 open complaints and compliance reviews.

 

Penn Breach Table

Here is the direct link to the Breaches Affecting 500 or More Individuals: http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/administrative/breachnotificationrule/breachtool.html

Social Media, Upcoming Events

Practice Leader Chris Heuman Elected to HIMSS Greater Chicago Chapter

The 2014-2015 Board Election Results are in for the HIMSS Greater Chicago Chapter and RISC Management & Consulting is pleased to announce that our Practice Leader, Chris Heuman, has been elected as the Member At Large for the HIMSS Midwest Fall Technology Conference!

Thank you to everyone who helped elect Mr. Heuman to this position. RISC is excited to become a bigger member of the HIMSS community. If you would like to join us at the Fall Technology Conference and meet Mr. Heuman and the RISC team, register here. The conference will take place Nov 12, 2014 – Nov 14, 2014.

HIMSS 2014-2015 Board Election Results