Is a Business Associate Agreement Necessary?
Recently, we have received some questions regarding business associate agreements and whether an agreement is necessary.
First off, a business associate is not considered a part of the covered entity‚Ä™s workforce. A business associate is a person or entity who performs functions or activities that create, receive, maintain or transmit protected health information on behalf of, or provide services to, a covered entity.
A business associate is:
- A person that offers a personal health record to one or more individuals on behalf of a covered entity.
- A Health Information Organization, E-Prescribing Gateway, or other person that provides data transmission with respect to PHI to a covered entity and requires access on a routine basis to such PHI.
- A subcontractor that creates, receives, maintains, or transmits PHI on behalf of the business associate.
A business associate agreement is needed if:
- A person or entity creates, receives, maintains, or transmits PHI for a function or activity regulated by HIPAA, such as: claims processing or administration, data analysis, processing or administration, utilization review, quality assurance, patient safety activities, billing, benefit management, and practice management.
- A person or entity who provides legal, accounting, consulting, management, administrative, accreditation or financial services where services involve disclosure of PHI to the person or entity.
- A person or entity who will be able to access PHI on a routines basis, and/or there is a possibility that the PHI in the person or entity‚Ä™s custody or control could be compromised. For example, a document shredding company.
In our Forms section on our website, we have a downloadable and printable Business Associate Agreement to be used between covered entities and business associates, as well as a matrix to help determine business associates. Our Forms section also includes a sample Business Associate Letter that can be used to provide instruction to your business associates as to why you need them to complete the business associate agreement.
If you have additional questions about business associates, business associate agreements, or need further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact one of our professional consultants.