HHS Upgrades Online Tool on Health Data Breaches

The revised HIPAA Breach Reporting Tool allows entities to report a breach, and the website informs members of the public of how breaches are investigated and resolved.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights this week launched a revised online tool that will help the public better identify recent breaches of health information and to learn how breaches are investigated and resolved. The HIPAA Breach Reporting Tool features improved navigation for those looking for information on breaches and ease of use for organizations reporting incidents, and it helps educate industry on the types of breaches that are occurring, industry-wide or within particular sectors and understand how OCR investigates, which can help industry improve their security.

"HHS heard from the public that we needed to focus more on the most recent breaches and clarify when entities have taken action to resolve the issues that might have led to their breaches," said HHS Secretary Dr. Tom Price. "To that end, we have taken steps to make this website, which features only larger breaches, a more positive, relevant source of information for concerned consumers."

OCR originally released the tool in 2009 as required by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. The tool includes the name of the entity; the state where the entity is located; the number of individuals affected by the breach; the date of the breach; type of breach (e.g., hacking/IT incident, theft, loss, unauthorized access/disclosure); and location of the breached information (e.g., laptop, paper records, desktop computer). HIPAA also requires the covered entity to promptly notify affected individuals of a breach, and, in some cases, notify the media.

"The HBRT provides health care organizations and consumers with the ability to more easily review breaches reported to OCR," said Roger Severino, director of OCR. "Furthermore, greater access to timely information strengthens consumer trust and transparency – qualities central to the administration's focus on a more innovative and effective government."

The tool is available at https://ocrportal.hhs.gov/ocr/breach/breach_report.jsf.

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