What Does PHI Stand For?

PHI stands for in HIPAA Protected Health Information. This term is used in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

The HIPAA Privacy Rule provides security and protection to the individual’s healthcare data and personal information that is held by health care organizations and it also gives an individual the right to know their information.

In another way, the Privacy Rule is balanced so that it permits the disclosure of personal health information needed for patient care and other important purposes.

This protected health information also has all the records and medical information of the patient that can be used to identify an individual as it has all the information about him.  PHI (protected health information) has all the information including conversations between doctors and nurses about treatment.

All other information such as billing records and any other information about the patients including his/her personal details in a health healthcare organizations records are also included in PHI. 

As said above, protected health information (PHI) is any part of the information that can be used an “identifier”, i.e. the information which can be used to track back an individual and used to identify them. PHI was added in 2003 in privacy rule and it covers all sections of personal details such as name, gender, sexuality, religion, health conditions, treatment plans or contact information.

There are as many as eighteen unique identifiers considered to be PHI and these elements are:-

  • Names
  • Geographic data
  • All elements of dates
  • Telephone numbers
  • FAX numbers
  • Email addresses
  • Social Security numbers
  • Medical record numbers
  • Health plan beneficiary numbers
  • Account numbers
  • Certificate/license numbers
  • Vehicle identifiers and serial numbers including license plates
  • Device identifiers and serial numbers
  • Web URLs
  • Internet protocol addresses
  • Biometric identifiers (i.e. retinal scan, fingerprints)
  • Full face photos and comparable images
  • Any unique identifying number, characteristic or code

Protected Health Information stops being PHI once all eighteen unique identifiers are removed but the information is still regarded as “protected” according to the 1981 Common Rule. As discussed above, PHI stands for in HIPAA to Protected Health Information and this PHI is any data or record from which an individual can be easily identified. It also includes information including bill payment and other personal details. PHI ceases to be PHI when it is stripped of all eighteen unique identifiers for marketing or research purposes.

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