OCR Issues Audit Report on Health Care Industry Compliance with the HIPAA Rules

Today, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released its 2016-2017 HIPAA Audits Industry Report that reviewed selected health care entities and business associates for compliance with certain provisions of the HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Rules.

The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act requires HHS to periodically audit covered entities and business associates for their compliance with the HIPAA Rules.   OCR conducted audits of 166 covered entities and 41 business associates and has notified these organizations of OCR’s findings.  OCR is publishing this Industry Report to share the overall findings on compliance with the audited provisions of the HIPAA Rules within a sample of the regulated industry.  A summary of the audit findings includes:

  • Most covered entities met the timeliness requirements for providing breach notification to individuals;
  • Most covered entities that maintained a website about their customer services or benefits satisfied the requirement to prominently post their Notice of Privacy Practices on their website;
  • Most covered entities failed to provide all of the required content for a Notice of Privacy Practices;
  • Most covered entities failed to provide all of the required content for breach notification to individuals;
  • Most covered entities failed to properly implement the individual right of access requirements such as timely action within 30 days and charging a reasonable cost-based fee;
  • Most covered entities and business associates failed to implement the HIPAA Security Rule requirements for risk analysis and risk management. 

“The audit results confirm the wisdom of OCR’s increased enforcement focus on hacking and OCR’s Right of Access initiative,” said OCR Director Roger Severino. “We will continue our HIPAA enforcement initiatives until health care entities get serious about identifying security risks to health information in their custody and fulfilling their duty to provide patients with timely and reasonable, cost-based access to their medical records.”

The 2016-2017 HIPAA Audits Industry Report may be found at:  https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/hipaa-audits-industry-report.pdf*

* People using assistive technology may not be able to fully access information in this file. For assistance, contact the HHS Office for Civil Rights at (800) 368-1019, TDD toll-free: (800) 537-7697, or by emailing OCRMail@hhs.gov.

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