HIPPA -- Am I a Business Associate?

A Kantola Learning Minute

An accounting firm has been asked to sign a Business Associate Agreement from a hospital that they're doing business with. They ask why they have to sign if they're not covered by HIPAA. What should they do? Find out in this week's Kantola Learning Minute with workplace trainer Linda Garrett, JD.

Hi, my name is Linda Garrett. We had a question from an accounting firm. They've been asked to sign a Business Associate Agreement from a hospital that they'll be providing some services to, and they've basically asked, Why do I have to sign a HIPAA Business Associate Aggreement if I'm not covered by HIPAA.

And the reason is simple: Back in 2003 when the regulations became effective the folks who wrote them were well aware that HIPAA-covered entities frequently will contract out certain administrative tasks or other operational details of the business of medicine, and they wanted to make sure that those outsiders, if in doing their job for, say, the hospital, if they happened to see patient charts while they do that job, they wanted to make sure that they would keep that information confidential in the same manner that the hospital would have to under HIPAA.

So, the point of the Business Associate Agreement is to make the contractor contractually promise to follow the HIPAA rules, just like the covered entity must follow the rules under the law. Now, in 2009 that changed, and, the HIPAA regulations directly apply to covered entities as well as their business associates, so the agreement is in addition to the law that requires a Business Associate, such as an accounting firm, or a legal firm, or a records shredding company, to follow those HIPAA regulations.

Thanks for watching.

Watch More Learning Minutes