Protected Health Information, also known as PHI, is protected under HIPAA Law, which requires the implementation of safeguards to ensure the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of PHI, while complying with the HIPAA Privacy Rule. The Privacy Rule puts limits on the disclosures and uses of PHI. There are serious financial penalizations and criminal penalties for violations of any of the provisions of the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules; and claiming ignorance of the rules is not considered to be a valid defense.
PHI is a short term for a broad group of protected health information. PHI is any information that is considered as individually identifiable that relates to health status of past, present, and future that is created, collected, or transmitted, or maintained by a HIPAA-covered entity as it relates to the provision of healthcare, healthcare services payments, or use in healthcare operations (PHI healthcare business uses).
PHI health information such as treatment information, diagnosis, results of medical tests, and prescription information are considered as protected health information under HIPAA, as well as the national identification numbers, demographic information such as gender, birth dates, ethnicity, and contact information for emergencies. PHI relates to physical records, while ePHI is any PHI that is electronically stored, created, transmitted, or received.
PHI only relates to patient information or health plan members and doesn’t include such data that is contained in employment records and education. This includes any health information that is maintained by a HIPAA covered entity that acts as an employer.
Health information that be tied to an individual, which, under HIPAA means protected health information includes one or more of the following eighteen identifiers. If/when the identifiers are removed the information is reclassified as de-identified protected health information and is not subject to the HIPAA Privacy Rule restrictions:
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