HIPAA Decision Guide for Protected Health Information


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)."12 "Individually identifiable health information" is information, including demographic data, that relates to:

and that identifies the individual or for which there is a reasonable basis to believe it can be used to identify the individual.13 Individually identifiable health information includes many common identifiers (e.g., name, address, birth date, Social Security Number).

The Privacy Rule excludes from protected health information employment records that a covered entity maintains in its capacity as an employer and education and certain other records subject to, or defined in, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, 20 U.S.C. §1232g.

12 45 C.F.R. § 160.103.

13 45 C.F.R. § 160.103

HIPAA Decision Flowchart

The above guide is for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. If you have questions, please contact the Office of General Counsel.

For more information, see https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/privacy/lawsregulations/index.html.