The HIPAA / HITECH omnibus rule published in the Federal Register late last week includes a number of changes that will require action by employers, health plans, and business associates in the coming months.  The new requirements take effect on March 26, although group health plans and business associates have until September 23, 2013, to comply with most of the new requirements. 
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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently released guidance on methods for de-identification of protected health information (PHI) in accordance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule.  The guidance, which was required under Section 13424(c) of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, answers questions about the two methods that can be used to satisfy the HIPAA de-identification standard in  45 C.F.R. § 164.514.  It also incorporates input from stakeholders that HHS received at a workshop held in March 2010.

As summarized in the figure below, the two methods by which health information can be designated as de-identified under HIPAA are (1) the “expert determination” method and (2) the “safe harbor” method.

 

Source:HHS Guidance Regarding Methods for De-identification of PHI in Accordance with the HIPAA Privacy Rule

Continue Reading HHS Releases Guidance on HIPAA De-Identification Standard