Now is the time to prepare for changes to the HIPAA Privacy Rule

9 minute read

According to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget, final action on the proposed rules—published in the Federal Register—to modify the HIPAA Privacy Rule is scheduled to occur in March 2023.[1] Compliance professionals may want to take advantage of the lead time to prepare for possible changes to the Privacy Rule before the final rules are published in the Federal Register and, in particular, designated privacy officials responsible for developing and implementing policies with respect to the Privacy Rule. This lead time can allow privacy officials to take important steps to help transition their organizations from their current state of compliance with the Privacy Rule to the future state of compliance with the new requirements.

Even though we will not know precisely the specific changes to the Privacy Rule until the final rule is published in the Federal Register, the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking issued in January 2021 provides a useful perspective on what changes we may expect to see in the final rule.[2] This advance notice can provide a convenient and manageable time frame for individuals to assess and develop processes and workflows without the high pressure of working under a short timeline.

With respect to time, it is imperative that privacy officials also know that whenever the final rule is published, covered entities will have 240 days after the publication of the final rule before enforcement begins. Despite that, starting preparation as soon as possible provides more time to address the challenges we will face once the final rule takes effect. And although the government agency has yet to publish the final rule, such uncertainty should not be used as an excuse to do nothing, and covered entities should take preparatory actions early since previously proposed HIPAA rules often closely resemble the finalized ones with minor or no revisions. To help privacy officials plan and prepare for the upcoming changes, the following steps are provided for fellow compliance professionals’ consideration.

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