HIPAA – What Health Information is Considered Protected?
Learning Objectives and CME/Disclosure Information
This activity is intended for healthcare providers delivering care to women and their families.
After completing this activity, the participant should be better able to:
1. Define ‘individually identifiable health information’ 2. Describe how key identifiers can be removed to de-indentify information so that HIPAA would no longer apply
Estimated time to complete activity: 0.25 hours
Susan J. Gross, MD, FRCSC, FACOG, FACMG
President and CEO, The ObG Project
Disclosure of Conflicts of Interest
Postgraduate Institute for Medicine (PIM) requires faculty, planners, and others in control of educational content to disclose all their financial relationships with ineligible companies. All identified conflicts of interest (COI) are thoroughly vetted and mitigated according to PIM policy. PIM is committed to providing its learners with high quality accredited continuing education activities and related materials that promote improvements or quality in healthcare and not a specific proprietary business interest of an ineligible company.
The PIM planners and others have nothing to disclose. The OBG Project planners and others have nothing to disclose.
Faculty: Susan J. Gross, MD, receives consulting fees from Cradle Genomics, and has financial interest in The ObG Project, Inc.
Planners and Managers: The PIM planners and managers, Trace Hutchison, PharmD, Samantha Mattiucci, PharmD, CHCP, Judi Smelker-Mitchek, MBA, MSN, RN, and Jan Schultz, MSN, RN, CHCP have nothing to disclose.
Method of Participation and Request for Credit
Fees for participating and receiving CME credit for this activity are as posted on The ObG Project website. During the period from Dec 31 2017 through Jan 25 2023, participants must read the learning objectives and faculty disclosures and study the educational activity.
If you wish to receive acknowledgment for completing this activity, please complete the post-test and evaluation. Upon registering and successfully completing the post-test with a score of 100% and the activity evaluation, your certificate will be made available immediately.
For Pharmacists: Upon successfully completing the post-test with a score of 100% and the activity evaluation form, transcript information will be sent to the NABP CPE Monitor Service within 4 weeks.
Joint Accreditation Statement
In support of improving patient care, this activity has been planned and implemented by the Postgraduate Institute for Medicine and The ObG Project. Postgraduate Institute for Medicine is jointly accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), to provide continuing education for the healthcare team.
Physician Continuing Medical Education
Postgraduate Institute for Medicine designates this enduring material for a maximum of 0.25 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.
Continuing Nursing Education
The maximum number of hours awarded for this Continuing Nursing Education activity is 0.2 contact hours.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) provides several web based tools to help providers understand and navigate HIPAA and its requirements. Below are summary excerpts from HHS that explain what information is considered protected under HIPAA:
Protected Health Information:
The Privacy Rule protects all “individually identifiable health information” held or transmitted by a covered entity or its business associate, in any form or media, whether electronic, paper, or oral. The Privacy Rule calls this information “protected health information (PHI).” 45 C.F.R. § 160.103.
“Individually identifiable health information” is information, including demographic data, that relates to:
The individual’s past, present or future physical or mental health or condition;
The provision of health care to the individual; or,
The past, present, or future payment for the provision of health care to the individual,
and that identifies the individual or for which there is a reasonable basis to believe it can be used to identify the individual. 45 C.F.R. § 160.10.
Individually identifiable health information includes many common identifiers (e.g., name, address, birth date, Social Security Number).
What are the ’18 identifiers’?
There are various methods that can be utilized to remove certain key identifiers, in order to de-identify the information so that HIPAA no longer applies. There are subtleties and important caveats (for example, what ZIP codes contain less than 20,000 people) but a general overview provided by HHS are provided as follows:
All geographic subdivisions smaller than a state, including street address, city, county, precinct, ZIP code, and their equivalent geocodes, except for the initial three digits of the ZIP code if, according to the current publicly available data from the Bureau of the Census:
The geographic unit formed by combining all ZIP codes with the same three initial digits contains more than 20,000 people; and
The initial three digits of a ZIP code for all such geographic units containing 20,000 or fewer people is changed to 000
All elements of dates (except year) for dates that are directly related to an individual, including birth date, admission date, discharge date, death date, and all ages over 89 and all elements of dates (including year) indicative of such age, except that such ages and elements may be aggregated into a single category of age 90 or older
Social security numbers
Medical record numbers
Health plan beneficiary numbers
Vehicle identifiers and serial numbers, including license plate numbers
Device identifiers and serial numbers
Web Universal Resource Locators (URLs)
Internet Protocol (IP) addresses
Biometric identifiers, including finger and voice prints
Full-face photographs and any comparable images
Any other unique identifying number, characteristic, or code
There may be exceptions where use of certain identifiers may be permitted
Caution should be exercised at all times – see HHS links below in ‘learn more’ for details
This website (the “Website”) is a service made available by The ObG Project LLC, its partners, affiliates or subsidiaries (“Provider”). This Website provides general information related to the law and is designed to help users safely cope with their own legal needs. This website does not provide legal advice and Provider is not a law firm. None of our customer service representatives are lawyers and they also do not provide legal advice. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a lawyer if you want legal advice. No attorney-client or confidential relationship exists or will be formed between you and Provider or any of our representatives.
This website is not intended to be a source for legal advice, and thus the reader should not rely on any information provided in this website as such. Readers should not consider the information provided to be an invitation for an attorney-client relationship, and should always seek the advice of competent counsel in the reader’s home jurisdiction. Provider may provide links to third party websites. These links are provided only as a convenience. Linked websites are not reviewed, controlled or examined by Provider and Provider is not responsible for the information, advertising, products, resources or other materials, of any linked site or any link contained in a linked site. The inclusion of any link does not imply endorsement by Provider. In addition, please be aware that your use of any linked site is subject to the terms and conditions applicable to that site. Please direct any questions regarding linked sites to the webmaster of that site.
OBG Project CME requires a modern web browser (Internet Explorer 10+, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge). Certain educational activities may require additional software to view multimedia, presentation, or printable versions of their content. These activities will be marked as such and will provide links to the required software. That software may be: Adobe Flash, Apple QuickTime, Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft PowerPoint, Windows Media Player, or Real Networks Real One Player.
Disclosure of Unlabeled Use
This educational activity may contain discussion of published and/or investigational uses of agents that are not indicated by the FDA. The planners of this activity do not recommend the use of any agent outside of the labeled indications.
The opinions expressed in the educational activity are those of the faculty and do not necessarily represent the views of the planners. Please refer to the official prescribing information for each product for discussion of approved indications, contraindications, and warnings.
Participants have an implied responsibility to use the newly acquired information to enhance patient outcomes and their own professional development. The information
presented in this activity is not meant to serve as a guideline for patient management. Any procedures, medications, or other courses of diagnosis or treatment discussed or suggested in this activity should not be used by clinicians without evaluation of their patient’s conditions and possible contraindications and/or dangers in use, review of any applicable manufacturer’s product information, and comparison with recommendations of other authorities.
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