A crucial safeguard of the HIPAA Privacy Rule, the minimum necessary standard, is derived from current confidentiality codes and practices.
Protected health information should not be used or disclosed when it is not required to carry out a specific task or serve a purpose. This is based on good current practice.
In order to reduce unauthorized or improper access to and disclosure of protected health information, covered entities are required under the minimum necessary level to review their procedures and strengthen security measures as necessary.
The minimum necessary standards set forth in the Privacy Rule are intended to be sufficiently pliable to take into account any covered entity’s unique circumstances.
How does the Rule work?
According to the Privacy Rule, covered entities must typically take reasonable measures to keep requests for, and uses of, protected health information to a minimum necessary to fulfill the intended purpose. For the following, the minimal standard does not apply:
Requests from or disclosures to a healthcare professional for medical treatment.
Disclosures to the person whose information is being disclosed.
Uses or disclosures carried out with a person’s consent.
Uses or disclosures necessary for adherence to the Administrative Simplification Rules of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Disclosures to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) when a privacy rule enforcement requirement necessitates the disclosure of information.
Uses or disclosures mandated by another legal requirement.
According to the implementation guidelines for this clause, a covered entity must create and put into place organizationally-appropriate policies and procedures that reflect the workforce and business practices of the entity.
Although the guidance cannot answer every query or accurately apply the minimum necessary standard to every unique industrial circumstance, we will attempt to offer more clarification on this matter in the future when it would be generally beneficial.
In order to make sure that the Rule does not delay timely access to high-quality healthcare, the Department will also keep an eye on how the minimum necessary standard is being implemented and, if necessary, consider making revisions.