Ready or not, Phase 2 of OCR's HIPAA audit program is nearly ready to begin, and healthcare organizations and their business associates (BA) should be prepared to open their books to federal regulators.
There are a number of tools on the market to assist covered entities (CE) and business associates (BA) in addressing their compliance needs. Solutions range from large governance, risk, and compliance programs to tools that assist in the development of a compliance program. When it comes to ongoing compliance management, Ostendio's My Virtual Compliance Manager™ (MyVCM™) offers a solution that is more than just a tool for an occasional look at the compliance stance of an organization.
HIPAA originally recognized the business associate (BA) as a contractor of a covered entity (CE), but did not mandate direct accountability to the regulations. This put the onus on a CE to ensure, contractually, that its BAs met applicable requirements and supported their CE clients' compliance. When the Privacy and Security Rules first became effective, many CEs accepted BA contracts (BAC) (sometimes also called BA agreements [BAA]) from their BAs. Some BAs were actually quite adamant about having the CE sign their BAC. Although it was the obligation of a CE to initiated the BAC and the CE was liable under the law for compliance, in most cases, BAs offered a BAC that met the legal requirements and often looked like the model offered by HHS. If this was not the case or if either party wanted additional provisions, the CE and the BA negotiated a contract. No provisions required by HIPAA could be removed or changed, but other provisions could be added.