Health Care

After OCR created a Morton’s Fork for hospitals and health systems by publishing its HIPAA Guidance on the Use of Online Tracking Technologies, the American Hospital Association initially stayed out of the fray. Not any more. In its letter dated May 22, 2023, AHA makes its case to HHS as to why OCR’s Online Tracking Guidance should suspended or amended.
Continue Reading AHA Writes Letter to HHS and Pushes Back on OCR’s Online Tracking Guidance

The FTC releases its second enforcement action under the Health Breach Notification Rule in just over 3 months. This time, the FTC found that a fertility app called Premom shared sensitive fertility information with third parties for unauthorized purposes. While Premom told its users that it would not share their health information with third parties without users’ consent, it used third-party automated tracking tools known as software development kits (SDKs) which shared highly sensitive health information (e.g., data about an individual user’s sexual & reproductive health, pregnancy status etc.) for advertising and marketing purposes.
Continue Reading FTC Finds that Ovulation Tracking App Violated the Health Breach Notification Rule

ONC says actors that require third-party apps to be “vetted” by them for security reasons before allowing patients to use such apps to receive EHI via API technology certified to the Standardized API certification criterion is likely to be information blocking. However, my concern with relying solely on the security criteria required for API certification is that it is too low of a bar to adequately protect patients and other individuals from developers of apps that fail to keep promises to keep individuals’ information confidential.
Continue Reading ONC Says “Vetting” Mobile Apps is Information Blocking

The Office of National Coordinator says it receives a lot of questions regarding how the Information Blocking Rule is supposed to work in tandem with the HIPAA Privacy Rule and other federal and state laws governing privacy and confidentiality. Their new FAQs aim to help clarify when actors can choose to not respond to a request for access, exchange, or use of electronic health information.
Continue Reading ONC Publishes New FAQs on Information Blocking focused on the Privacy Exception.

JAMA published a study earlier this week finding more than 95% wanted immediate access to test results. However, when speaking to ONC, the study’s lead researcher specifically noted that although 95.3% of patients who received abnormal test results responded that they still would like to continue to receive immediately released results, this was associated with nearly twice the likelihood of worry compared to respondents who received normal results.
Continue Reading ONC Vindicated. Patients Want Immediate Access to Test Results

The FTC issued a proposed order requiring BetterHelp to pay $7.8 million to consumers to settle charges that it shared consumers’ health data with Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat, and Criteo after promising to keep such data private and claiming it is “certified” as “HIPAA compliant.” The real juice of this case is in the FTC compliant — and HIPAA-covered providers, facilities & organizations can learn a lot about what to watch out for with health data Apps as we continue to march towards the FHIR.
Continue Reading FTC Orders BetterHelp Health App to Pay $7.8M for Sending User Data to Facebook & Snapchat

The forecast for Arizona is thunderstorms, at least for at least one health care system. Last week, OCR announced a $1.25 settlement for HIPAA Security Rule violations brought to light by a cybersecurity hacking incident that took place over five years ago.
Continue Reading Not So Sunny News in Arizona –  Major Health Care System Agrees to Pay $1.25 Million HIPAA Settlement for Cybersecurity Hacking Incident from 2016

The chickens have come home to roost for GoodRx. The FTC has assessed a $1.5 Million penalty against the telehealth and prescription drug discount provider for failing to report unauthorized disclosures as required by the Health Breach Notification Rule.
Continue Reading Mobile Health Apps and Vendors of Health Records Beware! – the FTC has just started Enforcing the Breach Notification Rule.

On December 1, 2022, OCR released a “guidance” Bulletin re: “Use of Online Tracking Technologies by HIPAA Covered Entities and Business Associates.” One of the most troubling positions OCR takes in its Bulletin is that “all IIHI collected on a regulated entity’s website or mobile app generally is PHI, even if the individual does not have an existing relationship with the regulated entity . . .” If your organization maintains a website, portal, FB page, mobile application etc., it must review the tracking technologies associated with these immediately.
Continue Reading Is Your Organization Ready for an OCR HIPAA Compliance Review re: Use of Online Tracking Technology?

Early on November 4, 2021, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) filed its Emergency Temporary Standard (the “Standard”) requiring employers with 100 or more employees to implement mandatory COVID-19 vaccine policies no later than January 4, 2022.  These rules are added to OSHA’s existing Emergency Temporary Standard for Health Care providers and similar rules adopted by the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force with respect to contracts amended on or after October 15, 2021, or newly awarded on or after November 14, 2021.

Under the new guidance, by January 4, 2022, employers (other than healthcare providers and federal contractors
Continue Reading OSHA mandates new vaccination rules for large employers

As efforts at the federal and individual states level evolve every day at almost a breakneck pace to address challenges and needs related to the COVID-19 outbreak, here is a updated running list of some of the top actions taken at the federal level that we thought would be helpful to the healthcare industry (Caveat, this is not an exhaustive list): 
Continue Reading Summary List Update of COVID19-related Federal Actions Relevant to Healthcare

On May 1, modifications to the Medicare Conditions of Participation (“CoPs”) went into effect, requiring certain electronic event notifications for admissions, discharges and transfers (“ADTs”) to and from hospitals, critical access hospitals and psychiatric hospitals. To provide guidance to hospitals and state surveyors, CMS released several FAQs as well as interpretive guidance last week to be published in the State Operations Manual.

Hospitals are required to make a “reasonable effort” to ensure that notifications are sent to post-acute care services providers and suppliers, and other practitioners and entities, which need such notifications for treatment, care coordination or quality improvement. Under
Continue Reading CMS Releases Hospital COP Event Notification FAQs; Interpretive Guidance

Labor and Employment
BlogCOVID-19’s Implications for OSHA and the NLRAMay 7, 2021
Recent news regarding the COVID-19 pandemic brings long-awaited optimism as signs of improvement begin to show. According to recent statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 40.7% of the Arizona population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, with 28.9% being fully vaccinated. The number of confirmed cases and deaths related to COVID-19 continues to decline as well. As conditions seem to improve, businesses are eager to re-open their doors and bring back their workforce in an effort to return to “normal.”
Continue Reading COVID-19’s Implications for OSHA and the NLRA