The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has appointed a new deputy director of health information privacy for its Office for Civil Rights (OCR) branch.

Earlier this week, the OCR confirmed that privacy expert Deven McGraw would be joining the OCR as the new deputy directory for health information and privacy, starting June 29. McGraw has previously worked for Manatt, Phelps and Phillips, LLP, a law firm in which she led the company's privacy and data security management. Using the skills she's learned here and elsewhere, McGraw hopes to strengthen the OCR's current HIPAA compliance and enforcement team.

The HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced today that Deven McGraw will join the OCR team as the Deputy Director for Health Information Privacy effective June 29, 2015,wrote the OCR on its website. “McGraw, a well-respected privacy expert, comes to OCR with a wealth of experience in both the private sector and the non-profit advocacy world. In addition to having written extensively on various issues relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), McGraw has been invited to testify before Congress multiple times. In 2009, she was appointed by former HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to the federal Health IT Policy Committee, for which she chaired the Committee’s Privacy and Security Workgroup.”

When asked by Security Media Group why she decided to join the OCR, McGraw responded by saying she is passionate about health privacy and security, and she believes using health data in an appropriate way can improve individual health.

As the new deputy director for health information privacy at the OCR, McGraw will be responsible for leading the Office's policy and enforcement of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) rules. This includes following up on HIPAA complaints regarding covered entities, educating covered entities on the Privacy and Security Rule.

The OCR has come under fire in recent years for not offering enough guidance to the public on how their medical information is used. The truth is that very few healthcare patients understand their privacy rights, leading to confusion regarding who's able to view and access a patient's records and who's not. Whether not the appointment of a new deputy director for health information privacy will actually make a difference, though, remains to be seen.

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