77. What is Protected Health Information (PHI) and why are information security policies so important?

Protected Health Information (PHI) is essentially any relevant information regarding the health status, provision of health care, or payment for health care that can be effectively linked and/or associated to a specific individual. It’s without question a broad interpretation and includes any part of a patient's medical record or payment history. More specifically, according to Wikipedia, Protected Health Information consists of any of the following:

  • Names
  • All geographical identifiers smaller than a state
  • Dates (other than year) directly related to an individual
  • Phone numbers
  • Fax numbers
  • Email addresses
  • Social Security numbers
  • Medical record numbers
  • Health insurance beneficiary numbers
  • Account numbers
  • Certificate/license numbers
  • Vehicle identifiers and serial numbers, including license plate numbers;
  • Device identifiers and serial numbers;
  • Web Uniform Resource Locators (URLs)
  • Internet Protocol (IP) address numbers
  • Biometric identifiers, including finger, retinal and voice prints
  • Full face photographic images and any comparable images
  • Any other unique identifying number, characteristic, or codes.

For an ounce of clarity, just remember this – if it looks to be privileged and sensitive information, then it’s essential to put in place measures for protecting it at all times.

Information Security Policies are Critical for PHI Compliance | Download Today | View Samples

What’s needed for ensuring Protected Health Information stays “protected” at all times are comprehensive, well-written operational, business specific, and information security policies and procedures, such as those offered by FLANK. It’s our all-inclusive set of documents, and it comes complete with literally hundreds of policies, procedures, forms, checklists, templates, provisioning and hardening documents, and so much more. From essential network security policies to system specific checklists, you’ll find everything you need in our comprehensive set of industry leading documents.