OCR Names HIPAA Privacy and Security Delegates

Dom Nicastro, for HealthLeaders Media , August 14, 2009

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) named the regional delegates for HIPAA privacy and security guidance and education in an announcement on its Web site today.

The Health Information for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act required the secretary of HHS to designate by next week the regional coordinators who will provide "guidance and education to covered entities, business associates, and individuals on their rights and responsibilities" related to the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules.

Robinsue Frohboese, the acting director and principal deputy director for OCR, will lead the regional directors out of the Washington office. Contact information or the regional delegates can be found on the OCR Web site.

"I think it is a good thing," says Chris Simons, RHIA, director, UM & HIMS and the privacy officer at Spring Harbor Hospital in Westbrook, ME. "Two big criticisms of HIPAA are that it is not always well understood by providers, and that even if it is understood, there is little to no enforcement. That has changed a bit recently with some high profile fines for breaches, and I think this signals the administration's desire to focus more on both education and enforcement in the months ahead."

The regions break down as such:

  • Region I: Boston (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont)

  • Region II: New York (New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands)

  • Region III: Philadelphia (Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia)

  • Region IV: Atlanta (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee)

  • Region V: Chicago (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin)

  • Region VI: Dallas (Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas)

  • Region VII: Kansas City (Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska)

  • Region VIII: Denver (Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming)

  • Region IX: San Francisco (American Samoa, Arizona, California, Guam, Hawaii, and Nevada)

  • Region X: Seattle (Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington)

Six months from now, another regulation from HHS is due per the HITECH's Section 13403, "Education on Health Information Privacy." It calls for OCR to develop and maintain a "multi-faceted national education initiative" to increase public transparency on the uses of PHI, including:

  • Programs to educate individuals about the potential uses of their PHI

  • Effects of such uses

  • Rights of individuals with respect to such uses

Dom Nicastro is a contributing writer. He edits the Medical Records Briefings newsletter and manages the HIPAA Update Blog.

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