As she has done for a number of years now, our good friend Marla Durben Hirsch highlighted Fox Rothschild (Fox) lawyers in her annual predictions articles in the January 2020 issue of Medical Practice Compliance Alert (MPCA). In her first article entitled “Technology will propel compliance trends in 2020”, Marla included the following quotes for Fox attorneys on a number of prediction items:
In making a prediction “Ransomware will not abate”, Fox partner William Maruca stated, “Cybersecurity attacks will ramp up as hackers get even more sophisticated.” Fox partner Elizabeth Litten added, “Practices that entrust all of their data to one cloud vendor are particularly vulnerable. The HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued yet another notice about ransomware in December 2019, which indicates that this will be high on its radar in 2020.”
In making another prediction “Ownership transfers will subject practices to scrutiny”, Maruca observed, “Private equity investments will restructure practices and create new compensation arrangements, which may lead to compliance scrutiny.” Michael Kline, another Fox partner added, “Physician retirement, mergers and closures of practices may raise issues related to ownership, responsibility for medical records and more.”
In making another prediction “The focus on interoperability of patient records will increase”, Litten warned, “Physicians will face more pressure to transmit and receive electronic patient information seamlessly and to provide patients with easier access to their records. . . . Rules implementing the 21st Century Cures Act will impose additional requirements on data sharing and penalties for information blocking. The government wants to see interoperability.”
Marla also wrote a companion article in the January 2020 issue of MPCA entitled “MPCA‘s expert sources earn another perfect predictions score”, in which she reported on results of her predictions article in the January 2019 issue of MPCA, which included Fox attorney predictions.
Litten’s 2019 prediction “States will step up privacy and security regulations,” has proven to be true, as California and other states are picking up the slack for inaction by Congress. Litten warned, “It’s not enough to be HIPAA compliant. This will be an increasing headache.” (This 2019 prediction continues to be true for 2020, as medical practices and other healthcare providers will likely find themselves confronted by multiple new, complex, confusing and often conflicting federal and state rules on privacy and security medical records.)
Kline’s 2019 prediction “Apps and other health data devices will bring more compliance issues” has proven to be true, according to Marla. Kline was quoted, “There is increased concern regarding how health data is being used and whether it’s protected under any laws.” (Indeed, even with the spate of new state regulations described in the immediately preceding paragraph, the pace of change and complexity respecting health data will continue to accelerate and challenge healthcare providers.)
We wish to thank Marla for the opportunity of participating in her predictions articles. It remains to be seen whether the predictions for 20/20 provide a “clear vision” of future directions in health information privacy and security.