The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will now consider whether organizations followed best practices for protecting medical information before assessing fines for violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

The new rule, which President Trump signed into law last week, amends the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act so that the HHS secretary could forgo fines or cut short an investigation if a organization can show it implemented best practices for protecting health information for at least a year. Those best practices would need to comply with recommendations from or protecting data from the National Institute of Standards and Technology or some other government endorsed standards body.

Linda Malek, chair of the Healthcare and Privacy & Cybersecurity practices at law firm Moses & Singer, said that this is a positive development for chief information security officers.

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