The US Health Department (HHS) will extend security and privacy requirements to business associates, contractors and subcontractors that work for health care providers.
The amended Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy and Security rules, which formalise many of the statutory changes already made in the 2009 Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act), also increase penalties for non-compliance to $1.5 million (A$1.4 million) per violation.
In addition, the rules clarify the requirements of when data breaches must be reported to HHS.
HHS Office for Civil Rights director Leon Rodriguez said business associates are responsible for a majority of the nation's health care data-loss incidents.
“These changes not only greatly enhance a patient's privacy rights and protections, but also strengthen the ability of my office to vigorously enforce the HIPAA privacy and security protections, regardless of whether the information is being held by a health plan, a health care provider, or one of their business associates," Rodriguez said.
The new rules are set to take affect 26 March, although business associates will have until 23 September.