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1 Storage and Security of Research Data IRB Continuing Education 2007 n Sheila Moore, CIP Director, Office of the IRB n Terrell Herzig UAB/UABHS HIPAA.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Storage and Security of Research Data IRB Continuing Education 2007 n Sheila Moore, CIP Director, Office of the IRB n Terrell Herzig UAB/UABHS HIPAA."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Storage and Security of Research Data IRB Continuing Education 2007 n Sheila Moore, CIP Director, Office of the IRB n Terrell Herzig UAB/UABHS HIPAA Security Officer

2 2 “The Good Old Days” n “All research files will be stored in a locked file cabinet in a locked office.” n The above may still be true, but more than likely there will be some sort of electronic storage of data.

3 3 Paper and Electronic Storage n The IRB is concerned with ensuring that the confidentiality of participant’s research records is maintained whether it be paper and/or electronic storage. n Each protocol needs to adequately address confidentiality of participant records.

4 4 Internet/Web n The IRB is concerned with ensuring that the confidentiality of participant’s research records is maintained when data is sent via the internet as well. This includes use (transfiguring) of data on outside groups – e.g., Google

5 5 Human Subjects Protocol (HSP) Confidentiality Q#22 n Describe the manner and method for storing research data and maintaining confidentiality. If data will be stored electronically anywhere other than a server maintained centrally by UAB, identify the departmental and all computer systems used to store protocol-related data, and describe how access to that data will be limited to those with a need to know. n If data stored electronically anywhere other than a server maintained centrally by UAB – contact HIPAA security for guidance.

6 6 HSP – Confidentiality (continued) Will any information derived from this study be given to any person, including the subject, or any group, including coordinating centers and sponsors? Yes No If Yes, complete i-iii. i. To whom will the information be given? ii.What is the nature of the information? iii.How will the information be identified, coded, etc.?

7 7 Electronic Storage of Data n The IRB must review process/research in which u Data maintained electronically for storage and data analysis u Databases used to collect/store information for current research or for future research use u Will be asking about storage of data on final report form

8 8 Database Research— Clinical and/or Research n Where the purpose/intent of the research is to generate and maintain a database for research purposes n Researcher is gathering information about human subjects to populate a research database n Database may have a dual intent. If research is an intent – must have IRB review

9 9 Dual Intent n Database for Clinical use and Research use n Database for clinical use – review for compliance with HIPAA security standards n Intent includes research must have IRB review n No laptop storage – access a secure server where database is securely stored

10 10 Research Data n Data collected for a protocol may not be released to others (including other researchers or students, at UAB or elsewhere) without first obtaining UAB IRB approval n This includes data from terminated protocols

11 11 Electronic Storage n If there has been a change in storage process and data are now stored electronically, submit revision to IRB for review.

12 12 Rule of Thumb! DON’T use thumb drive for storage of research data!

13 13 Describe to IRB n The security measures for data u Coding u Encryption u No data taken off-campus

14 14 HIPAA and The UAB Researcher Terrell W. Herzig, MSHI UAB/UABHS HIPAA Security Officer HSIS Data Security Officer

15 15 A Recent Scenario n Background: u A computer external hard drive, used to backup a clinical research database, contains protected health information. u It is of average size for such devices, 2”x8”x6”. u It is in a locked private office. If this external hard drive goes missing, how much would it cost?

16 16 Choose only one answer: n A. $104 n B. 1.8 million x $30 n C. Lost productivity for an entire entity while cooperating with an investigation (estimated at $23 million) n D. Research is shut down n E. All of the above

17 17 And the answer is… n A. $104 n B. 1.8 million x $30 n C. Lost productivity for an entire entity while cooperating with an investigation (estimated at $23 million) n D. Research is shut down n E. All of the above

18 18 How much would the same drive have cost if proper safeguards had been in place? Answer: $127 $104 for the drive $23 for the encryption software

19 19 Other interesting numbers 5 Number of hours the person who lost the drive spent hooked to a polygraph 2 Number of federal agents on campus conducting the investigation 12 Number of weeks of man hours spent by the organization cooperating with the agents <1 Number of blocks from UAB/UABHS this facility lies 9 Number of joint UAB/VA research projects under investigation by the VA’s IRB and Chief Information Security Officer

20 20 VA Recommendations n Take administrative sanctions against: u IT Specialist u Birmingham REAP Director u Birmingham REAP Associate Director u Medicare Analysis Center Director u VA Information Resource Center Director u Birmingham Medical Center Director u Associate Chief of Staff for Research n Develop Government Risk Criteria for determining need to notify. n Require encryption on portable devices

21 21 VA Recommendations (cont.) n Re-evaluate position sensitivity levels and background investigations. n Institute release of information practices for research. n Develop access policies for programmer access for research. n Require data security plan before IRB approval. n Audit for waiver compliance. n Enforce access policies for National Data Centers. n Prohibit storage of VA information on non-VA systems. Discontinue receiving VA email at UAB. n Assess alignment of REAP management structure. Correct dysfunctional management structure.

22 22 “Oh, that can’t happen here…”

23 23 Recent Examples of Incidents Impacting UAB/UABHS Research n Research database with protected health information stolen from a locked office n Thumb drive containing research database lost n Laptop with research database stolen

24 24 What are the risks associated with a breach in security? n Risks to Individual whose PHI is compromised: u Embarrassment, misuse of personal data, victim of fraud or scams, identify theft n Risks to the Institution: u Loss of information and equipment, trust of constituencies, reputation, future grant awards; negative publicity; penalties, fines, litigation n Risks to Research: u Loss of data or data integrity, funding in jeopardy u If serious and/or continuing noncompliance is determined by the IRB, then possible suspension or termination could result as well as report to the Office for Human Research Protections, other federal agencies, research sponsors, and other institutional officials as appropriate. n Risks to Investigator or Employee: u Loss of data, time, funding, reputation; embarrassment; disciplinary action, prosecution, fines, civil and criminal penalties

25 25 At UAB, HIPAA affects… n More than 12,000 employees, which is approximately 67% of the UAB/UABHS workforce n More than 5,000 students n Over 44,000 hospital discharges annually n Over 400,000 outpatient visits annually n $450 million awarded in grants and contracts involving human subjects n Physical plant of approximately 80 blocks

26 26 Final Jeopardy Answer: The 18 elements that can be used to identify an individual as documented in the HIPAA Regulations.

27 27 What is protected health information? Protected health information (PHI) is any information, including demographic information, that is TRANSMITTED or MAINTAINED in any MEDIUM (electronically, on paper, or via the spoken word) that is created or received by a health care provider, health plan, or health care clearinghouse that relates to or describes the past, present, or future physical or mental health or condition of an individual or past, present, or future payment for the provision of healthcare to the individual, and that can be used to identify the individual. “ePHI” is often used to designate electronic PHI.

28 28 PHI Data Elements The following identifiers of the individual, or of relatives, employers, or household members of the individual, are considered PHI: 1. Names 2. Geographic subdivisions smaller than a state (street address, city, county, precinct, zip, equivalent geo-codes) 3. All elements of dates (except year) including birth date, admission and discharge dates, date of death, and all ages over 89 and all elements of dates (including year) indicative of such age. 4. Telephone numbers 5. Fax numbers 6. Electronic mail addresses 7. Social Security numbers 8. Medical record numbers 9. Health plan beneficiary numbers

29 29 PHI Data Elements (continued): 10. Account numbers 11. Certificate/License numbers 12. Vehicle identifiers and serial numbers 13. Device identifiers and serial numbers 14. Web Universal Resource Locators (URLs) 15. Internet Protocol (IP) address numbers 16. Biometric identifiers, including finger and voice prints 17. Full face photographic images and any comparable images 18. Any other unique identifying number, characteristic, code, except as allowed under the ID specifications (164.514c)

30 30 So that means… Linking any one of these 18 PHI data elements to an identified diagnosis or medical condition, whether the diagnosis comes from a medical record or is self-reported by the participant, means that PHI is being maintained. Example: A database entitled “Liver Transplant Recipients” containing only individuals’ names is linking 1 PHI data element with a medical condition. The database contains PHI. Do you have PHI as part of your research data?

31 31 Types of Data Protected by HIPAA n Written documentation and all paper records n Spoken and verbal information including voice mail messages n Electronic databases and any electronic information containing PHI stored on a computer, PDA, memory card, USB drive, or other electronic media

32 32 Research: A Use n Sharing of PHI among UAB/UABHS covered entities for research is considered a “use” of PHI. n New requirement for researchers: All databases containing PHI must adhere to the UAB/UABHS information privacy and security standards as required by the federal HIPAA regulations.

33 33 How Researchers Can Use or Disclose PHI in Compliance with HIPAA n If the Institutional Review Board (IRB) has approved the research and n One or more of the following conditions exists: 1. The activity is preparatory to research. 2. The research involves only decedent PHI. 3. The research uses a “limited data set” and data use agreement. 4. The patients or participants have signed an authorization to use the PHI for the research. 5. The IRB has granted a waiver for the required patient/participant signed authorization.

34 34 Recruiting and Screening n Research recruitment techniques must meet HIPAA standards for privacy and confidentiality. n Investigators must separate the roles of researcher and clinician. n Investigators must not use their clinical access privileges to search patient records for potential research participants. n Physicians may contact only their own patients to recruit for research studies. n If investigators receive data from a covered entity to complete their research, then the principal investigators or designated researchers must provide a copy of the fully executed IRB approval form to the covered entity holding the data before the data can be released for research. n A covered entity may require that the investigators complete its own HIPAA compliant Authorization for Use/Disclosure of Health Information form in addition to providing the IRB approval form.

35 35 De-Identified Data and HIPAA n De-identified data means that all 18 PHI data elements have been removed prior to receipt by the researcher, no further action is required to meet HIPAA compliance. De-identified data are not PHI. n See “HIPAA Handbook for Researchers” regarding statistical methods to de-identify data and re-identifying codes. This UAB handbook is available at handbook.pdf

36 36 Minimum Necessary Standard n HIPAA requires that a covered entity limits the PHI it releases/discloses to a researcher to the “information reasonably necessary to accomplish the purpose.” A covered entity relies on the researcher’s request and the documentation from the IRB to describe the minimum PHI necessary to accomplish research goals. n A signed authorization from the research patient or participant supersedes the minimum necessary restriction.

37 37 A Business Associate Agreement (BAA)… n Is required before you contract with a third party individual or vendor to perform research activities involving the use or disclosure of PHI. n Binds the third party individual or vendor to the HIPAA regulations when performing the contracted services. n Must be approved in accordance with UAB/UABHS policies and procedures. Additional information about BAAs can be found on the UAB/UABHS HIPAA Website at

38 38 Patient Rights HIPAA guarantees certain rights of privacy to patients. If PHI is released or disclosed to a researcher, then the researcher becomes responsible for ensuring that the use and disclosure of PHI complies with HIPAA regulations as outlined in the UAB/UABHS HIPAA standards.

39 39 The HIPAA Security Rule ConfidentialityIntegrity Availability

40 40 The Researcher must… n Provide and maintain database security, including physical security and access. n Control and manage the access, use, and disclosure of the PHI.

41 41 The Researcher’s Role in Information Security n Store PHI in locked areas, desks, and cabinets. n Control access to research areas. n Obtain lock down mechanisms for devices and equipment in easily accessible areas. n Challenge persons without badges in restricted areas. n Verify requests of maintenance, IT, or delivery personnel.

42 42 Desktop/Workstation Security n Arrange computer screen so that it is not visible by unauthorized persons. n Log off before leaving the workstation. n Configure the workstation to automatically log off and require user to login if no activity for more than 15 minutes. n Set a screensaver with password protection to engage after 5 minutes of inactivity. n Manage your research data. Store documents and databases with ePHI securely on a network file server. Do NOT store ePHI on the workstation (C: drive). n Do not allow coworkers to use your computer without first logging off.

43 43 Portable Device Security Portable devices include hand-held, notebook, and laptop computers, personal digital assistants, cell phones, and pocket or portable memory devices such as thumb and jump drives. n Do not use a portable device for storing ePHI. n Use password protection. n Delete ePHI when it is no longer needed. n Keep your application software up-to-date. n Back-up critical software and data on a secured network. n Follow all of the recommendations for workstation security. n Use only VPN for remote wired and wireless connectivity. n Check with IT representatives for other security safeguards. n Use encryption when transporting ePHI on any mobile computing device. Be sure to backup encryption keys.

44 44 What is encryption? The process of transforming data to an unintelligible form in such a way that the original data can not be obtained without using the inverse decryption process.

45 45 Email Use n General Rule: Do NOT send emails containing PHI. n At UAB/UABHS, do NOT email ePHI except between Groupwise and Central Exchange email addresses. Confirm Central Exchange addresses with AskIT. n Email with ePHI to addresses outside the Groupwise/Central Exchange systems must be encrypted. Ask your IT representative to assist you with encryption. n Do not FORWARD your UAB emails to outside email systems, i.e. AOL, hotmail, yahoo, gmail.

46 46 Internet Use n Do not use web-based personal file and backup media, i.e. Google docs, spreadsheets, personal backup sites, etc. n Do not surf the web if using an account with administrator rights.

47 47 Account Management n Do not share your user account, password, token, or other system access. n Use strong passwords that are at least 6 or 8 characters long, depending on the minimum required by your system. Include upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters such as #, %, ?, and $. n Do not use pet names, birthdates, or words found in the dictionary. n If you must write down your password, keep it locked up or in your wallet protected like a credit card. n Do not enable your browser to remember your password. n Only access PHI/ePHI for business related purposes. n Do not use your system access to look up medical information on yourself, family, friends, or coworkers. n Notify IT support immediately if you believe your system access has been compromised.

48 48 What if an incident occurs? n Call the appropriate helpdesk: HSIS at 934-8888 or AskIT at 996-5555. n Contact the IRB office at 934-3789. n Gather as much information regarding the incident as possible. n Document information on the appropriate incident reporting form. n Do not delete anything. n If information or equipment is stolen, contact the UAB Police Department and file a report. n Cooperate with investigators (both internal and external). n Refer external inquiries regarding the incident to UAB Media Relations.

49 49 Others That Can Help n AskIT Help Desk at 996-5555 n HSIS Help Desk at 934-8888 n Your Entity Privacy Coordinator or your Entity Security Coordinator n UAB HIPAA Security Officer, Terrell Herzig, at 975-0072

50 50 Remember the HIPAA Mantra Everyone is responsible for the privacy and security of protected health information.

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