De-identification of PHI has become an increasingly complex issue and requirement with the increased use of electronic health records, health information exchanges and related. The Office of Civil Rights has been working on update guidance on methods of de-identification for some time. The final guidance is now available.
OCR has released guidance regarding methods for de-identification of protected health information in accordance with the HIPAA Privacy Rule. This guidance fulfills the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) mandate that HHS issue such guidance. In response to this mandate, OCR collected research and views regarding de-identification approaches, best practices for implementation and management of the current de-identification standard and potential changes to address policy concerns. OCR solicited stakeholder input from experts with practical technical and policy experience to inform the creation of guidance materials by organizing an in-person workshop consisting of multiple panel sessions, each addressing a specific topic related to de-identification methodologies and policies. The workshop was open to the public and was held March 8-9, 2010 in Washington, DC. The guidance synthesizes these diverse perspectives. It can be found at http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/understanding/coveredentities/De-identification/guidance.html