The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced a settlement of potential violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy and Security Rules with iHealth Solutions, LLC (doing business as Advantum Health), a Kentucky-based business associate that provides coding, billing, and onsite information technology services to health care providers. The settlement involved a data breach, where a network server containing the protected health information of 267 individuals was left unsecure on the internet. The HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Rules set the requirements that HIPAA-regulated entities must follow to protect the privacy and security of health information.
“HIPAA business associates must protect the privacy and security of the health information they are entrusted with by HIPAA covered entities,” said OCR Director Melanie Fontes Rainer. “Effective cybersecurity includes ensuring that electronic protected health information is secure, and not accessible to just anyone with an internet connection.”
In August 2017, OCR initiated an investigation of iHealth Solutions following the receipt of a breach report stating that iHealth Solutions had experienced an unauthorized transfer of protected health information, known as exfiltration, from its unsecured server. The protected health information included patient names, dates of birth, addresses, Social Security numbers, email addresses, diagnoses, treatment information, medical procedures, and medical histories. In addition to the impermissible disclosure of protected health information, OCR’s investigation found evidence of the potential failure by iHealth Solutions to have in place an analysis to determine risks and vulnerabilities to electronic protected health information across the organization.
iHealth Solutions has paid $75,000 to OCR and agreed to implement a corrective action plan, which identifies steps iHealth Solutions will take to resolve potential violations of the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules and protect the security of electronic protected health information. Under the terms of the settlement agreement, iHealth Solutions will be monitored by OCR for two years to ensure compliance with the HIPAA Security Rule. iHealth Solutions has agreed to take the following steps:
- Conduct an accurate and thorough analysis of its organization to determine the possible risks and vulnerabilities to the electronic protected health information it holds;
- Develop and implement a risk management plan to address and mitigate identified security risks and vulnerabilities to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of its electronic protected health information;
- Implement a process to evaluate environmental and operational changes that affect the security of electronic protected health information; and
- Develop, maintain, and revise, as necessary, its written HIPAA policies and procedures.
The resolution agreement and corrective action plan may be found at: https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/compliance-enforcement/agreements/ihealth-ra-cap/index.html
OCR is committed to enforcing the HIPAA Rules that protect the privacy and security of peoples’ health information. If you believe that your or another person’s health information privacy or civil rights have been violated, you can file a complaint with OCR at https://www.hhs.gov/ocr/complaints/index.html.