OCR Director Jocelyn Samuels Makes Strides in HIPAA Enforcement

March 29th, 2016 - By PrognoCIS Marketing

HIPAA compliance is an essential part of healthcare practice. In an effort to support the success of our providers, we offer the following educational content produced by Compliancy Group regarding the 2016 Phase Two HIPAA Audits. This guest post also features OCR Director Jocelyn Samuels, a leading female figure in the healthcare industry, in honor of Women’s History Month.

In June of 2015, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) appointed Jocelyn Samuels as its new director. Since taking office, Samuels has gone far beyond the work of her predecessors, issuing in a new and unprecedented era of HIPAA enforcement.

Before taking her post at OCR, Samuels served as the acting Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Before that, she worked at the National Women’s Law Center in Washington, D.C. as the vice president for Education and Employment. While there, she advocated for Title VII and Title IX enforcement, among other initiatives that would protect from discrimination based on race, disability, gender, or religion.

Phase Two HIPAA Audits

One of the first announcements that followed Samuels’ appointment was the implementation of a new wave of Phase Two OCR audits that have been active since January 2016. In these Phase Two audits, OCR has set about a series of random audits of Covered Entities (CEs)–any doctor, health insurer, or health care clearinghouse–to assess the status of their compliance with federal HIPAA regulation.

In the event that a CE fails their audit, OCR can then begin an audit of that CE’s Business Associates (BAs). ABA is an outside firm that a CE hires to work with PHI–that can include shredding companies, storage facilities, or any company that is paid to handle PHI in any way. These new phases Two audits can potentially spell disaster for any number of healthcare professionals and their associates who aren’t up to date with their compliance, an unprecedented measure in the history of federal HIPAA enforcement.

Samuels has said that while the first years of HIPAA were about education, the years ahead are going to firmly stress enforcement. She’s so serious about this new round of enforcement that she’s hired a team of third-party auditors to aid in properly implementing Phase Two.

How to Stay Protected

Samuels is taking HIPAA enforcement to new heights, and with this growing climate of enforcement and risk, it’s more important to stay compliant now than ever before.

Compliance solutions available to healthcare professionals have become more and more diverse over the past few years; however, with this new Phase Two audits beginning to roll out, finding a total compliance solution that covers the full extent of HIPAA is becoming essential to operating an organization free from PHI breaches and their associated fines and litigation.

Since 2005 Compliancy Group has allowed anyone to simplify the growing challenges of HIPAA compliance, whether they are an experienced health care professional with compliance expertise or a front desk manager without any formal training. The Guard is our simple, cost-effective, web-based solution that can help any organization regulate and monitor all aspects of their HIPAA compliance throughout their entire practice. With Compliancy Group, you’ll be guided by our team of Compliance Coaches to Achieve, Illustrate, and Maintain compliance under the full spectrum of HIPAA, HITECH, Omnibus, and PCI regulations. Visit or contact us at 855.854.4722 (855 85 HIPAA) to learn how simple compliance can be.

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