In discussions regarding HIPAA and risk determinations, each phrases “risk analysis” and also “risk assessment” are occasionally used correspondently. But bear in mind, according to HIPAA there is a difference between these phrases. Like many things under HIPAA, each and every single phrase possesses its own specific meaning and precision should be taken when applying or making reference to obligations. Each makes reference to a distinct requirement for covered entities and business associates under HIPAA.
The confusion that these phrases can produce is actually pervasive amongst individuals who deal with HIPAA. The difference was actually the topic of a debate on a medical lawyer listserv which I subscribe to. The fact that lawyers who actually focus their particular practices on HIPAA considered the necessity to debate the difference demonstrates the shortage of clarity in addition to the significance and need to carefully evaluate the differences.
Risk Analysis vs Risk Assessment
Under the HIPAA Security Rule, a “risk analysis” requires entities to “conduct an accurate and thorough assessment of the potential risks and vulnerabilities to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of electronic protected health information held by the covered entity or business associate.” 45 CFR § 164.308(a)(1)(ii)(A). The risk analysis is actually a required element for entities to perform in complying with HIPAA. While the definition of the risk analysis sets forth, the goal is to identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses in an entity’s systems. This in turn will assist the development of the entity’s security policies and procedures, which happens to be the next step in complying with the requirements of the HIPAA Security Rule. Accordingly, a risk analysis is an element of the compliance process.