The HIPAA legal reference and guidance mentions reasonable and appropriate all over the place. Many times that concept creates confusion. How do you determine what is reasonable or appropriate for any environment?


In this episode:

What is reasonable and appropriate?

Where to meet us [1:40]

DC Unconvention 2017 – Sept 16 & 17, 2017 Washington DC
GA HFMA CARE Forum – Sept 22, 2017, Sandy Springs, GA
North Metro MGMA – Oct 17, 2017, Kennesaw, GA
GA HFMA Fall Institue – Nov 8, 2017 – Reynolds Plantation at Lake Oconee, GA
Georgia Association of Orthopedic Executives – Nov 10, 2017 – Callaway Gardens, GA

Topic for today: What is reasonable and appropriate? [??]

Expand or collapse the extended show notes


Today’s topic

 

What is reasonable and appropriate?

Shout out

[3:57] Congratulations to Kardon’s part-time employee, Tracy Redd, who graduated with her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing from Middle Georgia State University!

Listener question [5:20]

Jonathan asks: Can you discuss HIPAA considerations in medical/academic research? I’m specifically interested what must be done to “anonymize” data gathered before sharing/presenting. I am told that simply removing names and addresses is not enough because an adversary could still use other patterns in the data to figure out the identity of study participants.

reasonable and appropriate

The privacy rule includes specific sections on deidentification of data and data use agreements. There are 18 elements listed. If you remove all of them you should have de-identified data. However, some of those are things like anything else you can think of that would be PHI.

For some really exciting fun, you can listen in on the conference of statistics and data analysis nerds discussing how many ways they can reidentify data even with these elements removed. I found it interesting but certainly not riveting.

Today’s topic

What is reasonable and appropriate? [12:00]

The HIPAA legal reference and guidance mentions reasonable and appropriate all over the place. Many times that concept creates confusion. How do you determine what is reasonable or appropriate for any environment?

First, what do the pertinent parts of the law itself say:

Security Rule

§164.306 Security standards: General rules.
(a) General requirements. Covered entities and business associates must do the following:

(1) Ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of all electronic protected health information the covered entity or business associate creates, receives, maintains, or transmits.

(2) Protect against any reasonably anticipated threats or hazards to the security or integrity of such information.

(3) Protect against any reasonably anticipated uses or disclosures of such information that are not permitted or required under subpart E of this part.

(4) Ensure compliance with this subpart by its workforce.

(b) Flexibility of approach. (1) Covered entities and business associates may use any security measures that allow the covered entity or business associate to reasonably and appropriately implement the standards and implementation specifications as specified in this subpart.

(2) In deciding which security measures to use, a covered entity or business associate must take into account the following factors:

(i) The size, complexity, and capabilities of the covered entity or business associate.

(ii) The covered entity’s or the business associate’s technical infrastructure, hardware, and software security capabilities.

(iii) The costs of security measures.

(iv) The probability and criticality of potential risks to electronic protected health information.


(1) Implementation specifications are required or addressable. If an implementation specification is required, the word “Required” appears in parentheses after the title of the implementation specification. If an implementation specification is addressable, the word “Addressable” appears in parentheses after the title of the implementation specification.

(2) When a standard adopted in §164.308, §164.310, §164.312, §164.314, or §164.316 includes required implementation specifications, a covered entity or business associate must implement the implementation specifications.

(3) When a standard adopted in §164.308, §164.310, §164.312, §164.314, or §164.316 includes addressable implementation specifications, a covered entity or business associate must—

(i) Assess whether each implementation specification is a reasonable and appropriate safeguard in its environment when analyzed with reference to the likely contribution to protecting electronic protected health information; and

(ii) As applicable to the covered entity or business associate—

(A) Implement the implementation specification if reasonable and appropriate; or

(B) If implementing the implementation specification is not reasonable and appropriate

$(1) Document why it would not be reasonable and appropriate to implement the implementation specification; and

$(2) Implement an equivalent alternative measure if reasonable and appropriate.

(e) Maintenance. A covered entity or business associate must review and modify the security measures implemented under this subpart as needed to continue provision of reasonable and appropriate protection of electronic protected health information, and update documentation of such security measures in accordance with §164.316(b)(2)(iii).


Administrative safeguards are administrative actions, and policies and procedures, to manage the selection, development, implementation, and maintenance of security measures to protect electronic protected health information and to manage the conduct of the covered entity’s or business associate’s workforce in relation to the protection of that information.

Risk management (Required). Implement security measures sufficient to reduce risks and vulnerabilities to a reasonable and appropriate level to comply with §164.306(a).

Privacy Rule

Training

(2) Implementation specifications: Training. (i) A covered entity must provide training that meets the requirements of paragraph (b)(1) of this section, as follows:

(A) To each member of the covered entity’s workforce by no later than the compliance date for the covered entity;

(B) Thereafter, to each new member of the workforce within a reasonable period of time after the person joins the covered entity’s workforce; and

(C) To each member of the covered entity’s workforce whose functions are affected by a material change in the policies or procedures required by this subpart or subpart D of this part, within a reasonable period of time after the material change becomes effective in accordance with paragraph (i) of this section.

De-identification standards

(a) Standard: De-identification of protected health information. Health information that does not identify an individual and with respect to which there is no reasonable basis to believe that the information can be used to identify an individual is not individually identifiable health information.

It is really all over the place in these rules

Business Associates

(e)(1) Standard: Business associate contracts. (i) The contract or other arrangement required by §164.502(e)(2) must meet the requirements of paragraph (e)(2), (e)(3), or (e)(5) of this section, as applicable.

(ii) A covered entity is not in compliance with the standards in §164.502(e) and this paragraph, if the covered entity knew of a pattern of activity or practice of the business associate that constituted a material breach or violation of the business associate’s obligation under the contract or other arrangement, unless the covered entity took reasonable steps to cure the breach or end the violation, as applicable, and, if such steps were unsuccessful, terminated the contract or arrangement, if feasible.

(iii) A business associate is not in compliance with the standards in §164.502(e) and this paragraph, if the business associate knew of a pattern of activity or practice of a subcontractor that constituted a material breach or violation of the subcontractor’s obligation under the contract or other arrangement, unless the business associate took reasonable steps to cure the breach or end the violation, as applicable, and, if such steps were unsuccessful, terminated the contract or arrangement, if feasible.


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Remember, HIPAA is not about compliance, it’s about patient care.

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