OCR Transmits Pre-Audit Screening Surveys to Covered Entities for Phase 2 HIPAA Compliance Audits

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) recently transmitted HIPAA pre-audit screening surveys to covered entities that may be selected for a second phase of HIPAA compliance audits (Phase 2 Audits). OCR is required to conduct compliance audits of covered entities and business associates under the 2009 Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act.

Unlike the pilot audits conducted in 2011 and 2012 (Phase 1 Audits), which focused on covered entities, OCR is conducting Phase 2 Audits of both covered entities and business associates. The Phase 2 Audit program will focus on areas of greater risk to the security of protected health information (PHI) and pervasive non-compliance based on OCR’s Phase I Audit findings and observations, rather than a comprehensive review of all of the HIPAA Standards. The Phase 2 Audits are also intended to identify best practices and uncover risks and vulnerabilities that OCR has not identified through other enforcement activities. OCR will use the Phase 2 Audit findings to identify technical assistance that it should develop for covered entities and business associates. In circumstances where an audit reveals a serious compliance concern, OCR may initiate a compliance review of the audited organization that could lead to civil money penalties.

OCR had previously planned to issue the pre-audit screening surveys in the summer of 2014, but postponed their release until it completed its implementation of a new web portal that will be used for the submission of audit-related materials.

We will publish a fuller On the Subject regarding the Phase 2 Audits in the coming days.

Daniel F. GottliebDaniel F. Gottlieb
Daniel F. Gottlieb counsels a wide range of health care industry clients, including health care providers, health plans, health information technology (IT) vendors and life sciences companies. He represents these entities on health IT acquisitions, privacy and data protection, reimbursement, fraud and abuse, and other health care regulatory and transactional matters. Daniel is a co-leader of the Firm’s Global Privacy and Cybersecurity Practice. Read Daniel Gottlieb's full bio.


Edward G. ZachariasEdward G. Zacharias
  Edward (Ed) G. Zacharias focuses his practice on complex transactions and regulatory compliance matters. He represents hospitals and health systems, academic medical centers, physician group practices, post-acute care providers, health information technology vendors, biotech companies, insurers, pharmaceutical companies and a variety of other health care entities. Read Edward Zacharias' full bio.


Ryan S. HigginsRyan S. Higgins
Ryan S. Higgins focuses his practice on representing hospitals, health systems, private equity firms and platform companies, and other health care organizations in corporate and transactional matters, including mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures and management arrangements. He also devotes a significant portion of his practice to representing health care organizations in matters involving health information privacy and security and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance. Ryan serves on the Chicago's office Pro Bono Committee and is heavily involved in pro bono matters. Read Ryan Higgins' full bio.

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