The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is a cabinet-level executive branch department of the U.S. federal government. Its mission is to "enhance the health and well-being of all Americans by providing effective health and human services and by fostering sound, sustained advances in the sciences underlying medicine, public health, and social services."
The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) under HHS is responsible for enforcing HIPAA and HITECH Act regulations. OCR enforces HIPAA regulations by:
- Investigating complaints
- Conducting compliance reviews to determine if covered entities are in compliance
- Performing education and outreach to foster compliance with the Privacy Rule and Security Rule requirements
OCR also works in conjunction with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to refer possible criminal violations of HIPAA.