Understanding the importance of PHI is crucial since it contributes to safeguarding the security and privacy of people’s health information as well as the privacy of any information about the medical services they get. Knowing the importance of PHI also guarantees that businesses handling health information abide by national and state regulations, like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). It is crucial to safeguard both persons’ privacy and health information security like those stored in medical computers. 

According to a study conducted by experts from Michigan State University and Johns Hopkins University, lax security and carelessness from those with access to personal health information are the main reasons why personal health information leaks, not hackers. 

This fantastic discovery emphasizes how important it is for employers and healthcare providers to preserve protected health information (PHI) with strict security measures. It is especially crucial if you have any influence on the healthcare benefits your employees receive, such as when you offer health reimbursement plans to pay for their medical bills.

It is crucial to keep a genuine record of patient health information because medical coding services require the accuracy of patient information. However, the entire process of receiving healthcare and insurance coverage could be affected by even one piece of disclosed information. People are more likely to have retained their medical records so that a seamless reimbursement process may be carried out.

What is Protected Health Information PHI?

Protected health information is the phrase for gathering details about a person’s general history and medical records to assess the necessary treatment. Laboratory results, medical and physical records, electronic health records, insurance information, and other data are included to aid healthcare professionals in determining the patient’s insurance needs. PHI may or may not be included in a person’s Personal Health Record Software

What is Included in Protected Health Information PHI?

PHI is protected on a federal level by the Health Insurance firm and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). It sets rules for keeping PHI about individuals secure and unavailable to those not authorized to see it.

However, following the legislation, specific PHI identifiers are used to ascertain the person’s medical background:

  • Named patients
  • Dates of birth and medical services (other than the year)
  • Call-in numbers
  • Other geographic information, such as their street address, city, county, or zip code, besides the state they call home
  • FAX dialing
  • Indicators of social security
  • Addresses for email
  • Number of medical records
  • Invoice numbers
  • Beneficiaries of health plans
  • License or certificate numbers
  • Serial and vehicle identification numbers, such as license plates
  • IP addresses and website URLs
  • Serial numbers and device identifiers
  • Protocols for Internet communication
  • Full-face photographs and images that are similar
  • Specific identification code or number

What is Not Included in Protected Health Information PHI?

People frequently believe that PHI, as defined by HIPAA, includes all patient and individual personal health histories and linked information. However, this is only part of the whole story. 

Several instances do not fall under the PHI category.

  • Who is recording the information is mainly used by healthcare to determine an individual’s PHI. 
  • Mobile health trackers, such as wearables or mobile apps on electronic devices, can, for instance, record health data with typical identifiers like heart rate or blood pressure.

However, this information would only be regarded as PHI under HIPAA if it is recorded by a healthcare professional or used by a health plan. The information gathered is not deemed PHI if the maker of the device or the creator of the health app doesn’t have a business partner agreement with a HIPAA-covered firm.

In addition, data isn’t considered PHI if all personal identifiers that link it to a specific person have been removed. The health information is called de-identified PHI if the identifiers are eliminated, and the HIPAA Rules are no longer applicable.

The patient billing process is thoughtfully created by the dental billing company to ensure that the patient receives timely coverage. To prevent payment delays from insurance companies, it is crucial to have an accurate record of patient information. 

Who Uses Protected Health Information?

Various people and organizations use PHI to track patients’ personal information. It gives physicians reassurance regarding the patient’s history, which aids them in comprehending their medical issues and in providing comprehensive healthcare. 

Researchers and clinicians also use PHI to investigate healthcare trends. Additionally, value-based care programs are developed using anonymized PHI to reward healthcare providers for delivering top-notch services.

The types of PHI that healthcare providers, health insurance providers, and the business associates they interact with may collect from patients are restricted under HIPAA and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009 (the “Act”).

What Happens if Protected Health Information Gets Leaked?

Numerous factors contribute to PHI leaks. One situation involves information leakage simply because gadgets that store data are lost or purposefully stolen.

The fact that PHI contains a person’s personal information in large quantities makes it an appealing target for hackers and thieves.

Another way a leak can happen is if someone at your company unintentionally gave PHI about an employee to a third party without getting consent. A breach could be caused by something as simple as failing to trash documents.

As a result, any of the factors mentioned above could easily have severe repercussions for the companies. Depending on the severity of the perceived ignorance level, HIPAA noncompliance fines can range from $100 to $50,000 per individual violation.

Some offenses, depending on how serious they are, may even result in jail time for the people who leaked the information. 

How to Keep Employees’ Protected Health Information safe?

Protecting individuals’ PHI should be your first priority, whether you are an employer or a company providing employee benefits like HRA. Organizations must take special precautions to protect the PHI of their employees so that it does not fall into the hands of unauthorized individuals.

By following specific ways, you can save your employees’ PHI:

  • Publish PHI patient privacy policies
  • Establish administrative protections by appointing a privacy officer
  • Provide instruction on the needs of the privacy rules to every one of your staff
  • Ensure all hard drives and electronic health records are encrypted and password-protected as technical precautions to prevent a hack. Specialized computers like medical tablets can help with this. 
  • Adopt best practices to ensure that PHI is never utilized for marketing, fundraising, or decision-making regarding employment or benefits.


Protected health information (PHI) must be adequately documented to ensure the security, privacy, and integrity of a healthcare provider’s health information generated, acquired, used, and preserved. Any data that is gathered or used for payments, operations, or the delivery of healthcare services is considered PHI. This data may include patient records, financial data, and other health-related information. 

Contact an expert at Cybernet if you’re interested in ways medical computers can help safeguard PHI.