Protected Health Information

Protected Health Information (PHI) is any information about health status, Health care terms, or medical payments that can be linked to a specific individual.

HIPAA regulations allow researchers to access and use protected health information when necessary to conduct research. However, HIPAA only affects research that uses, creates, or discloses protected health information that will be entered in to the medical record or will be used for healthcare services, such as treatment, payment or operations.

Under the US Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), there are 18 identifiers linked to protected health information that must be treated with special care.  They are as follows:

  1. Names
  2. All geographical identifiers smaller than a state
  3. Dates (other than year) directly related to an individual
  4. Phone numbers
  5. Fax numbers
  6. Email addresses
  7. Social Security numbers
  8. Medical record numbers
  9. Health insurance beneficiary numbers
  10. Account numbers
  11. Certificate/license numbers
  12. Vehicle identifiers and serial numbers, including license plate numbers;
  13. Device identifiers and serial numbers;
  14. Web Uniform Resource Locators (URLs)
  15. Internet Protocol (IP) address numbers
  16. Biometric identifiers, including finger, retinal and voice prints
  17. Full face photographic images and any comparable images
  18. Any other unique identifying number, characteristic, or code except the unique code assigned by the investigator to code the data