The Definition of Protected Health Information

This posting is one of several that outline the HITECH privacy provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that President Obama signed into law on Tuesday, February 17, 2009, in Denver, CO. Here, we reproduce the definitions that appear in Subtitle D—Privacy, Section 13400. Definitions, that appear in the Conference Report on page H1345 of Congressional Record—House, February 12, 2009. These definitions are critical in understanding the content of the new HITECH privacy provisions and how they relate to existing HIPAA Administrative Simplification Privacy Rule standards.

HIPAA Privacy Definitions:

Business Associate
Covered Entity
Electronic Health Record
Health Care Operations
Health Care Provider
Health Plan
National Coordinator
Personal Health Record
Protected Health Information
Vendor Of Personal Health Records


The term ‘protected health information’ has the meaning given such term in section 106.103 of title 45, Code of Federal Regulations.

Section 106.103—

Individually identifiable health information:

(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2) of this definition, that is:

(i) Transmitted by electronic media;

(ii) Maintained in electronic media; or

(iii) Transmitted or maintained in any other form or medium.

(2) Protected health information excludes individually identifiable health information in:

(i) Education records covered by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, as amended, 20 U.S.C. 1232g;

(ii) Records described at 20 U.S.C. 1232g(a)(4)(B)(iv); and

(iii) Employment records held by a covered entity in its role as employer.

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