Health insurers may want to think twice before trusting hospitals with any sensitive data. According to new research released yesterday by HIMSS Analytics, business associates of health care organizations are largely unprepared to meet the new data breach-related obligations included in the HITECH Act.

Results of a national survey of hospitals and business associates to check the state of health care vulnerability to data breach revealed that 33% of business associates surveyed were not aware that they need to adhere to federal HIPAA privacy and security requirements, compared to 87% of health providers. Business associates are defined as groups that handle private patient information for health care organizations, including billing and credit bureaus, benefits management, legal services, claims processing, insurance brokers, data processing firms, pharmacy chains, accounting firms, temporary office personnel and offshore transcription vendors.

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