April News Roundup

It’s a busy world out there and it can be tough to keep up on all the news. Here are three compliance-related news stories to keep you “in the know.”

Alexa is getting a HIPAA upgrade

Alexa the voice-controlled digital assistant from Amazon, is commonly used for home automation, entertainment streaming, and various administrative functions, like accessing email. That’s a lot of information floating through the airwaves! Earlier this month, Amazon has announced that they will allow health care companies to build Alexa voice tools that are capable of securely transmitting private patient information. The transmission of patient data via voice commands will likely be of great benefit to hospitals, doctors and insurance companies.

This reporter is reminded of Mike TeeVee throwing himself into Willy Wonka’s great machine so that he can be transmitted via television waves. It worked but it shrunk him small enough to be put in his mother’s purse. Let’s hope Alexa’s upgrade doesn’t cause the same kind of chaos!

For more information: https://www.statnews.com/2019/04/04/amazon-alexa-hipaa-compliant/

Medication Security Camera Captures Women Giving Birth

Some of the most valuable and easily stolen assets in a hospital are drugs, and security cameras are often used as preventive measures to catch ongoing theft. However, cameras are tricky in that they take images of what you want and what you don’t. Most of us have photos of friends and family – and complete strangers – in the background of some of our photos.

In 2016, 81 women brought a class action suit against Sharp Grossmont Hospital near San Diego, claiming that they had been filmed while undergoing various procedures including childbirth, from July 2012 to June 2013. The hospital’s parent company stated then that the cameras were installed to catch the thief or thieves responsible for the disappearance of a powerful anesthetic from drug carts, and they issued an apology. At that time the claim was denied class action status. The women were not satisfied though and have gone back to court claiming that patients’ “most sensitive genital areas” were visible at times and that the cameras were positioned where they could sometimes record the women’s faces.

For more information: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/81-women-sue-california-hospital-put-cameras-delivery-rooms-n990306

UCLA Health agrees to $7.5M data breach settlement

The university health system discovered suspicious activity on its network in October 2014 and contacted the FBI for help. At first, they thought patient medical records were safe, but six months later, they discovered that hackers had breached records for over 4 million patients. There’s a strict protocol that most be followed in the event of a HIPAA breach, and the hospital did everything right according to the HHS Office for Civil Rights. Patients however thought otherwise and filed a class-action suit.

For more information: https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/cybersecurity/ucla-health-to-pay-7-5m-to-settle-data-breach-class-action-case.html