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Wiley Rein's Kirk Nahra Discusses HHS Privacy Guidance

IAPP’s Daily Dashboard
November 27, 2012

Kirk Nahra, co-chair of Wiley Rein’s Health Care Practice, was quoted by IAPP’s Daily Dashboard in a November 27 article about health care privacy guidance issued by the U.S. Health and Human Services Department’s (HHS) Office for Civil Rights.

The HHS guidance focuses on methods for the “de-identification” of protected health information in accordance with the HIPAA Privacy Rule, according to the article. De-identification is the removal of individually identifiable information from health data used in research such as comparative effectiveness studies and policy assessments.

HHS issued the guidance as part of its implementation of the 2009 Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. The guidance synthesizes input that the agency collected from stakeholders during a March workshop, according to the article.

The new guidance “satisfies one of the many remaining HITECH obligations for HHS,” Mr. Nahra told IAPP’s Daily Dashboard. “It is a very technical and complicated document and breaks little new ground. It is mainly a ‘best practices’ document rather than new guidance or change in interpretation or approach. We can only hope that issuance of this guidance—which has a September 4 date on it, despite being issued on November 26—means that other HITECH/HIPAA guidance, including the long anticipated final rules, are coming soon.”