Health IT Roundup—Amazon gets health data with PillPack purchase; HIPAA criminal charges on the rise

Amazon trailer
Amazon just purchased a whole lot of health data. (Amazon)

Amazon gets more than an online pharmacy

Much of the coverage around Amazon’s acquisition of PillPack revolved around the online retail giant’s entrance into the pharmaceutical industry. But as the Wall Street Journal reports, Amazon just purchased a glut of healthcare data.

That also thrusts the tech company into the highly regulated health information industry, where protecting user data is far more complex. Amazon will be limited in what it can do with that data, and one attorney said the company may need to separate PillPack from the rest of its operations. (Wall Street Journal)

Criminal HIPAA prosecutions on the rise, attorneys say

Listing a handful of convictions over the last four years, attorneys with Hinckley Allen say federal agencies are using criminal penalties under HIPAA to prosecute privacy violations.

The trend points to the need for providers to establish clear protocols for responding to an unauthorized disclosure, the attorneys wrote in an op-ed for Stat. Annual training and privacy policies can help practices limit their exposure to criminal charges.

“These incidents also reflect the federal government’s willingness to prosecute HIPAA violations at every corporate level—nonsupervisory employees, management, and corporations themselves—a trend we expect to continue,” they wrote. (Stat)

Cerner settles overtime lawsuit

Cerner has settled a second lawsuit brought by employees who said they were denied overtime pay.

The settlement, filed under seal, would end three years of litigation, according to the Kansas City Star. It comes two years after the company settled a separate lawsuit involving similar allegations.

According to the court filing, Cerner still “adamantly denies” the allegations. (Kansas City Star)

DOD hospital passes Joint Commissioner survey with new EHR

Naval Health Clinic Oak Harbor (NHCOH), which recently installed Cerner’s MHS Genesis System, passed its Joint Commission survey using the new EHR.

The Joint Commission found no significant problems, according to a Department of Defense press release. It comes weeks after a scathing report that highlighted significant problems with the DOD’s EHR implementation, including patient safety concerns.

“The fact that we had no high risk findings at the conclusion of several years of significant Information Technology (IT) changes, the most obvious being the fielding of MHS GENESIS, along with multiple departmental moves, construction noise/delays, leadership changes and rebranding with the new name, is truly incredible,” Capt. Christine Sears, NHCOH commanding officer, said in a statement. (Release)