The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has announced that they will be starting Phase 2 of its Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Audit Program. While Phase 1 audits only concerned covered entities, Phase 2 audits will consist of a review of the policies and procedures of both covered entities and business associates to determine if they meet the requirements under HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Rules.
The OCR is currently in the process of contacting potential auditees to verify contact information. These communications will be sent only via e-mail. The OCR has stated that this initial e-mail may be categorized as junk by certain spam filters; therefore, covered entities and business associates should regularly check their spam or junk e-mail folders to ensure that they receive e-mails from OSOCRAudit@hhs.gov. Once the contact information has been confirmed, OCR will send a pre-audit questionnaire to collect information about the “size, type, and operations of potential auditees.” Based on the data gathered from the questionnaires, the OCR will determine their final pool of auditees.
Phase 2 audits will consist of both desk and on-site audits. Desk audits will include requests to provide documentation demonstrating compliance with HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Rules. Once a covered entity or business associate receives an audit request, they will have 10 business days to respond. All documents must be submitted electronically to a secure online portal provided by the OCR. The desk audits are expected to be completed by the end of December 2016.
Entities may also be selected for on-site audits. If selected, the OCR will notify the entity via e-mail, schedule a date, and provide information about the on-site audit process. The on-site audits will last three to five days, depending on the size of the entity.
- Sample initial contact e-mail
- Sample pre-audit questionnaire
- HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Audit Program
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