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Patricia O'Connell
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Kirk Nahra Discusses 2016 Health Data Privacy Outlook in Podcast

Healthcare Info Security
January 19, 2016

Kirk J. Nahra, chair of Wiley Rein’s Privacy Practice and co-chair of the Health Care Practice, discussed the 2016 outlook for health data privacy regulations in a podcast interview with Information Security Media Group for

Mr. Nahra said that in 2016, the health care sector faces a variety of complex legislative and regulatory issues, especially those tied to patient privacy, including the proposed modifications to the decades-old Common Rule, the primary regulation covering federally funded research.

Mr. Nahra noted the theme of the Common Rule changes is “where we can streamline or eliminate regulatory burdens of the Common Rule in situations where there are not [privacy] concerns for patients, we’re going to try to take those steps.” In addition to impacting researchers, the proposed modifications could affect the analytics organizations perform on their own data, he added.

“It’s going to have a big impact on the kinds of activities that go on ... with data-related research, where there are appropriate privacy and security protections in place,” Mr. Nahra said. While the proposed changes primarily impact researchers, the modifications could affect analytics that organizations perform on their own data, he added.

Also discussed in the interview was the 21st Century Cures bill, which was passed by the House last year, but would need to be approved by the Senate and signed into law by President Obama before taking effect. The bill aims to advance medical research and innovation and contains provisions that would alter HIPAA by eliminating the need for patient authorization for the use or disclosure of their protected health information for research purposes, if HIPAA covered entities or business associates are involved.

Noting that the privacy provisions in the 21st Century Cures bill could be in conflict with the proposed Common Rule changes, Mr. Nahra concluded: “I'm optimistic if this bill makes its way through the Senate, the Senate will actually clean up a lot of these privacy provisions.” In the podcast Mr. Nahra also discussed the impact of the Cybersecurity Act of 2015 and potential changes in information-sharing on healthcare organizations; ongoing regulatory concerns related to the security and privacy of big data; and whether the HIPAA Security Rule needs updating given advances in technology and growing cyber-threats.

To listen to the complete interview, please click here.