Joy Pritts: Health IT security is a constantly moving target

The biggest challenge for the next chief privacy officer at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT will be keeping up with emerging ways of sharing information, and looking at them from a privacy and security perspective, Joy Pritts, the office's outgoing privacy chief, said.

Pritts, who announced her departure from the ONC earlier this month, called security a constantly moving target in an interview with HealthcareInfoSecurity. "Technology continues to advance and security has to advance with it," she said.

Pritts' announced departure came in the wake of a shakeup at the ONC. Late last month, the agency revealed plans to reorganize, cutting the number of offices within the agency--though Pritts' position was not among them.

In her interview with HealthcareInfoSecurity, Pritts also spoke about her time at the ONC. She said she was proud of the work her team accomplished in a short amount of time, and touted their ability to move the conversation about privacy toward something that is essential.

However, she told HealthcareInfoSecurity that she found it frustrating that providers and health plans were unaware of what was required of them when it came to rules on privacy and security.

Jerome B. Meites, an attorney with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights, told attendees at an American Bar Association conference earlier this month that the crackdown on HIPAA violations over the past year will "pale in comparison" to what is coming down the pipe over the next 12 months.

OCR has said that when it resumes HIPAA audits this fall, the investigations will have a narrow focus and there will be fewer onsite visits. Meites told the ABA that OCR still has to decide which organizations it will select for an audit from a list of 1,200 candidates--800 healthcare providers, health plans or clearinghouses--and 400 of their business associates.

To learn more:
- listen to the HealthcareInfoSecurity interview

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