Presentation on theme: "The HIPAA Privacy Rule: Scope, Structure, and Implementation"— Presentation transcript:
1 The HIPAA Privacy Rule: Scope, Structure, and Implementation James G. Hodge, Jr., J.D., LL.M.Associate Professor,Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health;Executive Director,Center for Law and the Public’s Healthat Georgetown and Johns Hopkins Universities
2 Principle ObjectivesDiscuss basic principles of health information privacy, confidentiality, and security.Briefly assess the existing universe of legal protections for the privacy and confidentiality of health data.Examine the scope, structure, and implementation of the HIPAA Privacy Rule.Discuss the impact of the HIPAA Privacy Rule on public health authorities.Explore the distinctions between public health practice and public health research for the purposes of applying privacy laws and policies.
3 Health Information Privacy - Key Terms Privacy - an individual’s right to control their identifiable health information.Confidentiality - privacy interests that arise from a specific relationship (e.g., doctor/patient, researcher/subject) and corresponding legal and ethical duties.Security - technological or administrative safeguards or tools to protect identifiable health information from unwarranted access or disclosure.
4 Health Information Privacy - Key Terms If the security safeguards in an automated system fail or are compromised, a breach of confidentiality can occur and the privacy of data subjects invaded.Willis Ware, Lessons for the Future: Dimensions of Medical Record Keeping, in Health Records: Social Needs and Personal Privacy 43 (Task Force on Privacy, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (1993) (
5 Health Information Privacy - Key Concepts Disclosure
6 Health Information Privacy - Key Concepts AcquisitionUseStorageDisclosure
7 Risks to Health Information Privacy Accessibility and intimate nature of health data combine to cause social, psychological, and economic harms to those whose privacy is violated.Emerging computer technologies and the development of longitudinal individual health records and national electronic health information infrastructures are perceived by many to threaten individual privacy.
8 Synergies of Health Information Privacy Absent privacy protections, patients and others will avoid some clinical, public health, and research interventions.Only through the responsible sharing of some health data may improvements in health care and community health be made.
9 Health Information Privacy - Communal Needs for Identifiable Health Data Individual privacy protections must be balanced with legitimate communal uses of health data like health research and public health.
10 The Universe of Health Information Privacy Laws A host of laws of every type at every level of government, affecting multiple types of entities, and covering an array of health data are all part of the universe of health information privacy laws
11 The Universe of Health Information Privacy Laws – Types of Laws
12 The Universe of Health Information Privacy Laws – Levels of Government
13 The Universe of Health Information Privacy Laws – Regulated Entities
14 The Universe of Health Information Privacy Laws – Types of Health Data
15 The Universe of Health Information Privacy Laws Basic observations underlying these laws:Focus on individual (as contrasted with group) privacy interestsIdentifiable health data is defined in different waysExtent of privacy protections variesFailure to address modern health information exchangesConsistent need to balance individual and communal interests in health data
16 Health Information Privacy - Modern Protections HIPAAThe Health Insurance Portabilityand Accountability Act of 1996
17 HIPAA and the Basis for Health Info. Privacy HIPAA seeks to:> Increase access to health insurance> By reducing insurance costs> By lowering administrative costs> By transmitting electronic data > Under enhanced health info privacy protections> That encourage people to seek health care
18 Health Information Privacy - Modern Protections HIPAA[includes]Administrative Simplification Provisions[which required the production of]Standards for Privacy of Identifiable Health Info.[also known as]Health Information Privacy Regulations[located at]45 CFR Parts 160 – 164[and known collectively as the]Privacy Rule
19 HIPAA Privacy Rule – A Brief Timeline August, 21, HIPAA passes Congress and was signed into law.August 21, Congress fails to pass health info. privacy law.August, January, Absent Congressional action, DHHS was authorized to produce administrative regulations.April 14, After months of work and public commentary, DHHS finalizes its Privacy Rule with President Bush’s approval.August 14, Bush administration modifies original Rule.April 14, The Rule becomes effective for most “covered entities” [or one year later for small health plans].April 14, The Rule is fully effective for all covered entities.
20 HIPAA Privacy Rule – Scope, Structure, and Implementation What is covered?Who is covered?How is it covered?How are disclosures/uses regulated?What about other laws?What about violations?
21 What Is Covered? “Protected Health Information (PHI)” individually-identifiable health information used or disclosed by a covered entity in any form, whether electronically, on paper, or orally.45 C.F.R
22 What Is Not Covered? PHI does not include: Education records covered by FERPA;Employment records held by a covered entity in its role as employer;Non-identifiable health information45 C.F.R
23 Who Is Covered? “Covered Entities (CEs): Health Plans Health Care ClearinghousesHealth Providers - that exchange identifiable health data electronicallyand their business associates45 C.F.R
24 Who Is Covered? Business associates include: Claims or data processors Billing companiesQuality assurance providersUtilization reviewersLawyersAccountantsFinancial service providers45 C.F.R
25 Who Is Covered?Beyond CE’s and their Business Associates are those who engage in:Covered functions – those functions of a covered entity the performance of which makes the entity a health plan, health care providers, or health care clearinghouse. 45 CFRHybrid entities performing “covered functions” may have to adhere to relevant portions of the Privacy Rule to the extent to which some part of the entity conducts these activities.
26 Who Is Not Covered? Life insurances companies Auto insurance companies Worker’s compensation carriersEmployersOthers who may still acquire,use, and disclose vast quantitiesof health data
27 How is PHI Covered?Boundaries - setting limits on uses and disclosuresSecurity - imposing security requirementsFair Information Practices - allowing individuals some level of access to their health dataAccountability - making covered entities accountable for handling and abuses
28 How Are Uses/Disclosures Regulated? Use – the sharing, employment, application, utilization, examination, or analysis of PHI within an entityDisclosure – the release, transfer, provision of, access to, or divulging in any other manner of PHI outside the entity holding it.
29 How Are Uses/Disclosures Regulated? Acquisition? UseDisclosure – the release, transfer, provision of,access to, or divulging in any other manner ofPHI outside the entity holding it.
30 How Are Uses/Disclosures Regulated? Acquisition = Disclosure
31 How Are Uses/Disclosures Regulated? CEs may use or disclose PHI without individual written authorization to carry out treatment, payment, or health care operations (aka. Standard transactions).
32 How Are Uses/Disclosures Regulated? Otherwise, uses or disclosures of PHI require either individual opportunities to object or written authorizations pursuant to the “anti-disclosure rule.”“Except as otherwise permitted or required. . . , a CE may not use or disclose PHI without an authorization “45 CFR (a)(1)
33 How are Uses/Disclosures Regulated? Some exceptions to the anti-disclosure rule:Law EnforcementJudicial and Administrative ProceedingsDecedentsHealth emergenciesLimited Commercial MarketingMinorsHealth ResearchPublic Health
34 What About Other Laws? Federal/State Constitutions Federal/State Statutory LawsFederal/State Administrative Laws Federal/State Judicial Law
35 Does the Privacy Rule Supplant These Laws? NoThe Privacy Rule creates a floor of federal protections.Existing federal or state laws that provide greater health information privacy protections or do not otherwise conflict with the Rule remain in effect. Like a patchwork quilt, they lay over Privacy Rule protections.
36 What About Violations?Violations or breaches of the Privacy Rule may result in:Complaints filed with the Secretary of HHS;Ensuing investigation by the Secretary;Compliance reviews by the Secretary;Informal resolution by the Secretary whenever possible; andImposition of civil penalties, which can be collected through release of federal debts owed to the entity.Criminal sanctions against individuals45 CFR
37 What About Violations?Beyond formal or informal approaches to addressing violations pursuant to the Privacy Rule are:Judicial uses of the Privacy Rule as a per se standard for protecting health information privacyContractual obligations to adhere to the Privacy RuleBusiness AssociatesLimited Data SetsInstitutional, corporate, and organizational policies requiring adherence to the Rule
38 Impact of the Privacy Rule on Public Health Externally – how does the Rule impact the flow of identifiable health data into or out of public health agencies?Internally – what are ways that the Rule affects the practice of public health or public health research done by public health agencies or its partners?
39 Impact of the Privacy Rule on Public Health Public Health Practice - ExternallyHow does the Privacy Rule affect the flow of health data to public health authorities?
40 The “Public Health” Exception The “public health” exception [to the anti-disclosure rule] states that a covered entity may disclose PHI without specific, individual authorization to a “public health authority that is authorized by law to collect and receive such information for the purpose of preventing and controlling disease, injury, or disability, including reporting of disease and the conduct of public health surveillance ”
41 The “Public Health” Exception Beyond this general authorization, additional, specific public health-based exceptions include:Disclosures to maintain the quality, safety, or effectiveness of FDA productsDisclosures to notify persons exposed to communicable diseasesDisclosures concerning work-related injuriesDisclosures about victims of abuse, neglect, or domestic violenceDisclosures for health oversight activitiesDisclosures to prevent serious threats to persons or the public
42 Who Is a Public Health Authority? A public health authority is an:agency or authority of the United States, a State, a territory, a political subdivision of a State or territory, or an Indian tribe, or a person or entity acting under a grant of authority from or contract with such public agency that is responsible for public health matters as part of its official mandate.
43 Who Is a Public Health Authority? Public health authorities include:State or Tribal Health DepartmentsLocal Health DepartmentsContractors/others acting under authority of these agencies
44 What About State Public Health Reporting Laws? The Privacy Rule does not pre-empt (or override) state law that “provides for the reporting of disease or injury or for the conduct of public health surveillance [or] investigation ”
45 Impact of the Privacy Rule on Public Health Public Health Practice - InternallyTo the extent that public health authorities use or disclose identifiable health data for public health purposes, they are not “covered entities,” and are thus not required to adhere to the provisions of the Privacy Rule.Simply stated, public health authorities doing public health things are not covered by the Rule.
46 Internal Impact of the Privacy Rule on Public Health Public Health Authorities As Providers/PlansA profound area of potential impact concerns the activities of public health authorities that resemble the provision of health care (e.g. direct delivery of health services to disadvantaged individuals) or administration of health plans (e.g., state “well person” programs).
47 Internal Impact of the Privacy Rule on Public Health PH authorities performing health care activities or acting as a health plan are engaged in “covered functions,” and accordingly must adhere to the Privacy Rule.Most public health authorities at the state and local levels declare themselves as hybrid entities (or multi-functional organizations with covered entity components) pursuant to the Rule.
48 Internal Impact of the Privacy Rule on Public Health PH Authorities Doing Health Care/Plan ActivitiesAs Hybrid EntitiesThe practical effect of hybrid status is that thepublic health agency designates thosecomponents of its practices that are covered, andadheres to the Rule concerning those components.Others within the agency may not have to adhereto the same requirements concerning their duties,although the agency is responsible for theircompliance with covered applications.
49 Distinguishing Public Health Practice vs. Research The HIPAA Privacy Rule provides different standards for disclosing PHI without authorization for public health vs. research purposes.
50 Distinguishing Public Health Practice vs. Research Disclosures for research purposes are more restrictive:IRB or Privacy Board Approval – that the use or disclosure of PHI involves no more than a minimal risk to individual privacy based on:an adequate plan to protect the identifiers from improper use and disclosure;an adequate plan to destroy identifiers asap;adequate written assurances that PHI will not be reused or disclosed to anyone else except as required by law.Preparatory to ResearchResearch on DecedentsLimited Data Sets
51 Distinguishing Public Health Practice vs. Research Neither the HIPAA Privacy Rule nor the federal Common Rule (regulating the performance or funding of human subjects research by most federal agencies) clearly distinguishes public health practice activities from research activities.Several dilemmas arise:Public health practice activities that assimilate research activities, such as some types of surveillance, may be misconstrued;Covered entities may deny access to PHI to public health authorities on the grounds that the requested bases for the data is research, and not practice; andPublic health practice activities may ultimately be submitted for IRB approval as if they are research.
52 Distinguishing Public Health Practice vs. Research A Report for Public Health Practitioners Including Case Studies and Guidance for Making Distinctions (2004)Sponsored by the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE), Atlanta, GA
53 Principal ObjectivesTo assess legal and ethical environments underlying public health practice and human subject researchTo clarify existing definitions of public health practice and researchTo provide meaningful cases on practice and researchTo make distinctions between public health practice and research through foundational and enhanced guidance
54 Public Health Practice The collection and analysis of identifiable health data by a public health authority for the purpose of protecting the health of a particular community, where the benefits and risks are primarily designed to accrue to the participating community.
55 Public Health Research The systematic collection and analysis of identifiable health data by a public health authority for the purpose of generating knowledge that will primarily benefit those beyond the participating community who bear the risks of participation
56 Guiding PrinciplesEssential Features (e.g. foundations) of Public Health Practice and ResearchEnhanced GuidelinesChecklist
57 Essential Features Foundations of Public Health Practice Involves specific legal authorization at the federal, state or local levels;Includes a corresponding governmental duty to perform the activity to protect the public’s health;Involves direct performance or oversight by a governmental public health authority (or its authorized partner) and accountability to the public for its performance;
58 Essential Features Foundations of Public Health Practice (cont.) May legitimately involve persons who did not specifically volunteer to participate (i.e., they did not provide informed consent);Supported by principles of public health ethics that focus on populations while respecting individual rights; and
59 Essential Features Foundations of Human Subjects Research Involves living individuals or identifiable information about them;Involves identifiable data that are not publicly available or for which the individual has not already consented to their use for research purposes;Involves research subjects who voluntarily participate (or participate with the consent of their guardian), absent a waiver; andSupported by principles of bioethics that focus on individual interests while balancing the communal value of research.
60 Enhanced GuidelinesGeneral Legal Authority – is there some general legal authority for the performance of the activity?Relationships/Accountability – what is the proposed relationship of the actors to those participating in the activity? Who is accountable for the health and safety of participants?Specific Intent – what is the specific intent of the actors performing the study?
61 Enhanced Guidelines Specific Intent - The intent of research is to test a hypothesis and seek to generalize the findings or acquired knowledge beyond the activity’s participants.
62 Enhanced Guidelines Specific Intent - The intent of public health practice is to assure the conditions in which people can be healthy through public health efforts that are primarily aimed at preventing known or suspected injuries, diseases, or other conditions, or promoting the health of a particular community.
63 Enhanced GuidelinesParticipant Benefits – is the activity designed to produce some benefit to the participants or their population?Interventions – is the activity designed to introduce some non-standard or experimental methods or analyses to participants or their identifiable data?Subject Selection – are the participants selected randomly so that the results of the activity can be generalized to a larger population?
64 Checklist Step 1 - Check Key Assumptions Step 2 - Assess the Foundations of Public Health PracticeStep 3 - Assess the Foundations of Human Subject ResearchStep 4 - Consider Enhanced GuidanceStep 5 - Conclusions
65 Distinguishing Public Health Practice vs. Research Checklist Key Update –Presently, the Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP) is working internally with federal agencies to review the bases for distinguishing research and non-research activities (including public health practice activities). OHRP is expected to release new guidance on these issues for public review and comment later this year.
66 ConclusionsThe HIPAA Privacy Rule Presents National Health Information Privacy StandardsThe Rule Creates a Floor for Privacy ProtectionsExisting Legal Protections at the Federal or State Level May Remain EffectiveThe Rule Impacts Public Health in Practice, Research, and Health Care/Plan Capacities in Multiple WaysDistinguishing Public Health Practice and Research Is Essential to the Application of the Rule.For more information, please contact me at