HIPAA for Dummies

HIPAA Origins

HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, has its origins in the United States and was enacted by Congress in 1996. The primary motivation behind HIPAA was to address various concerns related to healthcare delivery, health insurance coverage, and the protection of patients’ health information. The act was driven by the need for improved portability and continuity of health insurance coverage, as well as the growing importance of electronic transactions and the need to protect sensitive health data in an increasingly digital industry.

The origins of HIPAA can be traced back to the 1980s and early 1990s when discussions and debates on healthcare reform were taking place in the United States. At that time, concerns were raised about the difficulties faced by individuals in maintaining health insurance coverage when changing jobs or facing other life events. There was a recognition of the need for portability and continuity of coverage, ensuring that individuals would not lose their health insurance when transitioning between different healthcare plans or employment settings.

In addition to portability, another factor that contributed to the origins of HIPAA was the rapid advancement of technology and the increased use of electronic transactions in the healthcare industry. As electronic data interchange became more prevalent, there was a growing need to address the security and privacy risks associated with the electronic exchange of health information. The potential for unauthorized access, disclosure, and misuse of sensitive patient data raised concerns among policymakers, leading to the development of standards and regulations aimed at safeguarding health information.

HIPAA was also influenced by the desire to address issues related to healthcare fraud, waste, and abuse. The act includes provisions aimed at combating fraudulent activities in the healthcare system, promoting accountability, and ensuring the appropriate use of healthcare resources.

Why do we need HIPAA?

Before HIPAA, there was no consensus amongst healthcare professionals as to the best practices for protecting private healthcare information (PHI). HIPAA introduced several industry-wide standards to address the issues of PHI security.

HIPAA was introduced to improve efficiency and patient experience in the healthcare industry. HIPAA introduced new practices to help healthcare organisations across the country to reduce the amount of paperwork, creating a better workflow. HIPAA requires code sets had to be used along with patient identifiers, which helped with the efficient transfer of healthcare data between healthcare organisations and insurers. This has had the effect of streamlining eligibility checks, billing, payments, and other healthcare operations. It is hoped that with more efficient management of patient data, the patient’s experience is improved.

HIPAA is necessary for several important reasons:

  1. Privacy and Security: A primary purpose of HIPAA is to protect the privacy and security of individuals’ health information. With the increasing use of electronic health records and digital data exchange, there is a need to ensure that sensitive patient information is kept confidential and secure. HIPAA establishes standards and safeguards that healthcare providers, health plans, and other covered entities must follow to safeguard patients’ privacy and protect against unauthorized access, use, or disclosure of their health information.
  2. Patient Trust: HIPAA plays a role in building and maintaining trust between patients and healthcare providers. When individuals seek medical care, they must feel confident that their personal health information will be handled with care and kept confidential. By setting clear standards for the privacy and security of health information, HIPAA helps establish a foundation of trust, encouraging patients to seek necessary care without fear of their information being misused or disclosed without consent.
  3. Continuity of Health Coverage: HIPAA includes provisions that promote the portability and continuity of health coverage. It ensures that individuals can maintain their health insurance coverage when transitioning between jobs or experiencing life events that may impact their insurance status. This continuity of coverage is necessary to ensure that individuals have access to healthcare services without disruption.
  4. Reduced Fraud and Abuse: HIPAA includes provisions that help prevent healthcare fraud and abuse. By implementing measures to detect and deter fraudulent practices, such as improper billing or identity theft, HIPAA safeguards healthcare resources and helps ensure that funds are allocated appropriately. This contributes to the overall integrity of the healthcare system and helps control healthcare costs.
  5. Improved Administrative Efficiency: HIPAA establishes standards for electronic transactions and code sets, which promote administrative efficiency in healthcare operations. It simplifies and standardizes processes such as claims submissions, eligibility verification, and electronic data exchange, reducing paperwork, streamlining operations, and lowering administrative costs for healthcare providers and payers.
  6. Research and Public Health Initiatives: HIPAA recognizes the importance of research and public health efforts. It allows for the lawful use and disclosure of protected health information for research purposes, with appropriate privacy protections in place. It enables public health authorities to access and use health information to monitor and respond to public health threats, track disease outbreaks, and implement effective interventions.

HIPAA is a comprehensive legislative act incorporating the requirements of several other legislative acts, including:

  • the Public Health Service Act
  • the Employee Retirement Income Security Act
  • the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act

What is PHI?

PHI stands for Protected Health Information. It refers to any individually identifiable health information that is created, received, maintained, or transmitted by a covered entity or business associate under HIPAA regulations. PHI includes a broad range of health-related data that can be linked to a specific individual, including demographic information, medical history, laboratory test results, diagnoses, treatment information, and more. Examples of PHI include a patient’s name, address, social security number, medical records, health insurance information, and any other information that can be used to identify an individual in relation to their health status or healthcare services. Protecting the confidentiality and security of PHI is a requirement under HIPAA to ensure the privacy and rights of patients. Understanding what constitutes as PHI is an important aspect of HIPAA compliance. PHI encompasses any information which could be used to identify which patient is connected to the healthcare record. If an unauthorized individual gains access to this information, the patient may be at risk of identity fraud. Here is a list eighteen so-called “personal identifiers”.

  • Names or part of names
  • Geographical identifiers
  • Phone numbers
  • Email addresses
  • Medical record numbers
  • Account numbers
  • Vehicle license plate numbers
  • Web URLs
  • Fingerprints, retinal and voice prints
  • Full face or any comparable photographic images
  • IP addresses
  • Device identifiers and serial numbers
  • Certificate or license numbers
  • Health insurance beneficiary numbers
  • Social Security numbers
  • Fax numbers
  • Dates directly related to an individual
  • Any other unique identifying characteristic

Who must comply with HIPAA?

HIPAA applies to health plans, health care clearinghouses, health care providers and endorsed sponsors of the Medicare prescription drug discount card. These organizations are referred to as “HIPAA Covered Entities” (CEs). Under certain circumstances, an organization may be exempt from HIPAA.

HIPAA compliance applies to various entities involved in the healthcare industry. The following entities are generally required to comply with HIPAA regulations:

  1. Covered Entities: These include healthcare providers, such as doctors, clinics, hospitals, psychologists, pharmacies, and nursing homes, who electronically transmit any health information in connection with certain transactions. Health plans, including health insurance companies, HMOs, and government programs like Medicare and Medicaid, are also considered covered entities.
  2. Business Associates: Business associates are individuals or organizations that perform certain functions or services on behalf of covered entities, involving the use or disclosure of protected health information (PHI). Examples of business associates include medical billing companies, IT service providers, cloud storage providers, and transcription companies.

Not all healthcare-related entities are covered by HIPAA. For example, employers who solely collect and maintain employee health information for employment-related purposes are generally not considered covered entities under HIPAA. Individuals who are not part of a covered entity or business associate are not directly subject to HIPAA requirements.

The HIPAA Rules

HIPAA introduced a set of rules and regulations that healthcare organizations, known as Covered Entities (CEs), and their business partners, known as Business Associates (BAs), must comply with to protect patient data. The HIPAA rules are designed to ensure the confidentiality, availability, and integrity of electronic protected health information (ePHI) while promoting the seamless exchange of healthcare information. The primary HIPAA rules include the Privacy Rule, Security Rule, Breach Notification Rule, Enforcement Rule, and the Omnibus Rule. Each rule plays a role in defining responsibilities, setting standards, and establishing safeguards to prevent unauthorized access, use, or disclosure of patient information. Understanding these rules is necessary for healthcare entities to meet their legal obligations, maintain patient trust, and protect sensitive health data in an increasingly digital healthcare landscape. The HIPAA rules involve several key regulations aimed at protecting patient data and ensuring the privacy and security of health information. Here’s an overview of each rule:

  1. Privacy Rule: The HIPAA Privacy Rule defines Protected Health Information (PHI) and outlines the responsibilities of Covered Entities (CEs) and Business Associates (BAs) in safeguarding patient data. It establishes patients’ rights over their health information and sets standards for the use and disclosure of PHI. The Minimum Necessary Rule, a component of the Privacy Rule, mandates that only the minimum amount of PHI necessary should be shared with third parties to complete specific tasks.
  2. Security Rule: The HIPAA Security Rule sets requirements for the protection of Electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI). It outlines physical, technical, and administrative safeguards that CEs and BAs must implement to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of ePHI. These safeguards include access controls, encryption, audit controls, employee training, and risk assessments.
  3. Breach Notification Rule: The HIPAA Breach Notification Rule establishes procedures that CEs must follow in the event of a data breach involving unsecured PHI. It requires CEs to promptly notify affected individuals, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), and sometimes the media, to minimize the risk of harm. Employees must be educated on breach notification procedures and understand their obligations to report breaches to the OCR and the media.
  4. Enforcement Rule: The HIPAA Enforcement Rule provides guidance on the penalties and fines that CEs may face for HIPAA violations and data breaches. The OCR and the Department of Health and Human Services have the authority to impose sanctions and alter punishment levels based on the severity and circumstances of the violation.
  5. Omnibus Rule: The HIPAA Omnibus Rule involves various privacy-related areas. It addresses topics such as the retention period for patient records, encryption requirements for PHI, business associate liability, and patient access to electronic health records.

These HIPAA rules work together to ensure the protection of patient data, maintain privacy standards, and provide guidelines for responding to breaches and enforcing compliance within the healthcare industry. It is necessary for CEs and BAs to understand and adhere to these rules to safeguard patient information effectively and avoid potential penalties.

Privacy Rule – Protecting PHI and Defining Responsibilities

The Privacy Rule is an important component of HIPAA and is designed to ensure the privacy and confidentiality of patients’ protected health information (PHI). It establishes the responsibilities of Covered Entities (CEs) and Business Associates (BAs) in safeguarding patient data. The rule defines PHI as any individually identifiable health information held or transmitted by a CE or BA, in any form or medium. It sets standards for the use, disclosure, and safeguards of PHI, giving patients control over their health information and granting them rights to access, amend, and request an accounting of disclosures. The Privacy Rule incorporates the Minimum Necessary Rule, which mandates that when sharing PHI with third parties, only the minimum amount of data necessary to accomplish the intended purpose should be disclosed.

Security Rule – Safeguarding Electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI)

The Security Rule focuses on protecting electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI) and outlines the necessary safeguards that CEs and BAs must implement. It requires them to assess risks and vulnerabilities to ePHI, implement administrative, physical, and technical safeguards, and establish policies and procedures to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of ePHI. The Security Rule covers various aspects, including access controls, encryption, audit controls, workforce training, and contingency planning. By adhering to the Security Rule, healthcare entities can effectively mitigate risks and protect ePHI from unauthorized access, disclosure, alteration, or destruction.

Breach Notification Rule – Promptly Addressing Data Breaches

The Breach Notification Rule outlines the procedures that CEs must follow in the event of a data breach involving unsecured PHI. It requires CEs to assess the risk of harm to individuals and promptly notify affected individuals, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), and, in certain circumstances, the media. The rule sets specific requirements for breach notification, including the timing, content, and methods of notification. By following these guidelines, CEs can minimize the potential harm to individuals affected by a breach and allow for timely remediation measures to be implemented.

Enforcement Rule – Penalties and Fines for Non-Compliance

The Enforcement Rule provides guidance on the penalties and fines that CEs may face for HIPAA violations and data breaches. The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have the authority to enforce HIPAA compliance and impose sanctions for non-compliance. The rule outlines the tiered penalty structure based on the level of culpability, the nature of the violation, and the harm caused. The OCR has the discretion to modify penalties based on the circumstances and can impose corrective action plans to ensure future compliance.

Omnibus Rule – Addressing a Range of Privacy-Related Areas

The Omnibus Rule covers various privacy-related areas not fully addressed in the other HIPAA rules. It involves aspects such as the retention period for patient records, encryption requirements for PHI, business associate liability, patient access to electronic health records, and restrictions on the sale of PHI. The Omnibus Rule serves to further enhance privacy protections and strengthen individuals’ rights over their health information.

By adhering to and understanding these HIPAA rules, healthcare organizations can effectively protect patient data, maintain privacy standards, respond to breaches, and enforce compliance. These rules establish a framework to safeguard the confidentiality, security, and integrity of patients’ health information, promoting trust and confidence in the healthcare system.

HIPAA Safeguards

Understanding HIPAA’s safeguard requirements are an important part of ensuring compliance. One area of HIPAA that has led to some confusion is the difference between “required” and “addressable” safeguards. Each safeguard is “required” unless there is a justifiable reason not to implement the safeguard. If the CE finds a reason not to implement a certain “required” safeguard, then an appropriate alternative to the safeguard must be implemented that achieves the same objective.

The HIPAA Security Rule breaks down the types of safeguards which must be adopted into three categories; administrative, physical, and technical safeguards. The safeguards outlined by the Security Rule are summarized as this:

HIPAA Technical Safeguards


  • Implement a means of access control
  • Introduced activity logs and audit controls


  • Introduce a mechanism to authenticate ePHI
  • Implement tools for encryption and decryption
  • Facilitate automatic log-off of PCs and devices

Technical safeguards involve the use of technology and technical measures to protect the confidentiality and integrity of ePHI. Key technical safeguards include:

  • Access controls: CEs should implement user authentication and authorization processes to ensure that only authorized individuals can access ePHI. This includes unique user IDs, secure passwords, and access levels based on job roles.
  • Encryption and decryption: CEs should implement encryption mechanisms to protect ePHI during storage and transmission. Encryption helps prevent unauthorized individuals from accessing or reading the data.
  • Audit controls: Systems should have mechanisms in place to track and monitor access to ePHI, including logging user activities, reviewing audit logs regularly, and implementing intrusion detection systems.


HIPAA Physical Safeguards

Physical safeguards refer to the physical measures taken to protect the physical access to facilities and equipment containing PHI. These safeguards include:

  • Facility access controls: CEs should implement policies and procedures to limit physical access to areas where PHI is stored or processed, such as data centers or server rooms.
  • Workstation security: Measures should be in place to secure workstations and devices that access or store ePHI, such as password protection, automatic logoff, and secure storage.
  • Device and media controls: CEs must implement procedures for the proper disposal, re-use, and protection of electronic media and devices that contain ePHI, such as encryption or secure data wiping.


  • Policies for the use/positioning of workstations
  • Policies and procedures for mobile devices


  • Facility access controls must be implemented
  • Inventory of hardware

HIPAA Administrative Safeguards

Administrative safeguards involve policies, procedures, and measures that govern the management of PHI within an organization. These safeguards include:

  • Security management processes: CEs must conduct regular risk assessments, develop security policies and procedures, and appoint a security officer to oversee the implementation of security measures.
  • Security awareness and training: Organizations must provide ongoing training to employees on HIPAA regulations, security policies, and procedures, and ensure they are aware of their roles and responsibilities in protecting patient data.
  • Security incident procedures: CEs should have incident response plans in place to address and mitigate security incidents, including data breaches or unauthorized access to PHI.


  • Conducting risk assessments
  • Introducing a risk management policy
  • Developing a contingency plan
  • Restricting third-party access


  • Training employees to be secure
  • Testing of contingency plan
  • Reporting security incidents


What are the HIPAA Training Requirements?

HIPAA’s training requirements are designed to be flexible so that an organization may adjust them to their particular needs. HIPAA employee training features as an Administrative Requirement of the HIPAA Privacy Rule (45 CFR §164.530) and an Administrative Safeguard of the HIPAA Security Rule (45 CFR §164.308).

HIPAA’s Privacy Rule states that employee training should be offered “as necessary and appropriate for members of the workforce to carry out their functions”. HIPAA’s Security Rule requires CEs and BAs to “implement a security awareness and training program for all members of the workforce” (HIPAA Security Rule). There are no specific requirements as to what employers should include in a training course, how to conduct the courses, or how regularly the courses should take place.  Best practice is to provide HIPAA training annually.

Some advice for running a HIPAA training course includes:

  1. Keep training short and focused. We recommend that training sessions last no longer than 90 minutes and are regular events rather than the annual refreshers mandated by the Department of Health and Human Services.
  2. Inform employees of the consequences of HIPAA data breaches, not just the financial implications for the CE or BA, but the implications for trainees, their colleagues, and victims of the breach.
  3. Senior management should be involved in the training as this highlights the importance of HIPAA compliance to employees.
  4. Keep the information concise and relevant and inform employees of what they are supposed to do to protect PHI and ePHI in their specific roles.
  5. Make the sessions interactive and engaging; use multimedia presentations to make the training memorable

HIPAA Violations

Understanding the types of HIPAA violations and their potential impact is necessary for healthcare organizations to prioritize data security and patient privacy. Let’s explore an overview of HIPAA violations and the associated penalties.

  1. Impermissible Uses and Disclosures: One common violation involves the impermissible use or disclosure of protected health information (PHI) without proper authorization. This can occur when healthcare providers share PHI with unauthorized individuals, disclose more information than necessary, or use PHI for purposes unrelated to healthcare treatment, payment, or operations.
  2. Lack of Safeguards: Failure to implement appropriate safeguards to protect PHI is another significant violation. This includes insufficient administrative, physical, and technical safeguards to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of PHI. Examples of inadequate safeguards may include the absence of risk assessments, weak access controls, or the lack of encryption for electronic PHI.
  3. Breach of PHI: A breach occurs when there is an unauthorized acquisition, access, use, or disclosure of PHI that compromises its security or privacy. Breaches can result from various factors, such as lost or stolen devices, hacking incidents, or inadvertent disclosure. HIPAA requires covered entities to promptly assess and report breaches to affected individuals, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and in certain cases, the media.
  4. Failure to Provide Individual Rights: HIPAA grants individuals certain rights regarding their health information, such as the right to access their records, request amendments, or restrict the use or disclosure of their PHI. Violations occur when covered entities fail to fulfill these rights or impede individuals’ access to their information, hindering their ability to exercise control over their health data.
  5. Insufficient Employee Training and Awareness: Failure to provide adequate training and awareness programs to employees can lead to HIPAA violations. It is necessary for organizations to educate their workforce about HIPAA regulations, the importance of patient privacy, and the proper handling of PHI. Insufficient training can result in unintentional breaches, mishandling of PHI, or negligence in safeguarding patient information.

Consequences of HIPAA Violations: Non-compliance with HIPAA regulations can have severe repercussions for healthcare organizations. The penalties for HIPAA violations vary based on the nature and extent of the violation, as well as the organization’s level of negligence. The penalties can range from monetary fines to criminal charges, and they may lead to reputational damage, legal disputes, and potential loss of trust from patients and stakeholders. The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) within the HHS is responsible for enforcing HIPAA regulations and imposing penalties for violations.

Conclusion: Compliance with HIPAA regulations is necessary to protect patients’ privacy, maintain data security, and create trust in the healthcare industry. Understanding the various types of HIPAA violations and their potential consequences is necessary for covered entities and business associates. By prioritizing data security, implementing appropriate safeguards, providing employee training, and promptly addressing any breaches or violations, healthcare organizations can uphold the principles of HIPAA, safeguard patient information, and ensure compliance with the law.

The penalty structure for HIPAA violations is divided into several different tiers. The tiers are divided based on many different factors, including the size of the organization, if appropriate safeguards were in place before the violation, and if the organization had any knowledge of the breach. The OCR will set the penalty based on many “general factors” and the seriousness of the HIPAA violation.

The categories of HIPAA violation are as follows:

  • Category 1: A violation that the CE was unaware of and could not have realistically avoided, had a reasonable amount of care had been taken to abide by HIPAA Rules
  • Category 2: A violation that the CE should have been aware of but could not have avoided even with a reasonable amount of care. (but falling short of willful neglect of HIPAA Rules)
  • Category 3: A violation suffered as a direct result of “willful neglect” of HIPAA Rules, in cases where an attempt has been made to correct the violation
  • Category 4: A violation of HIPAA Rules constituting willful neglect, where no attempt has been made to correct the violation

The OCR has the power to waive a fee if the CE in question could not have been expected to avoid a data breach, a so-called “unknown violation”.

HIPAA Violation Penalty Structure

The OCR considers a wide range of factors when determining the appropriate penalty to be levied against a CE. This includes the length of time over which violation occurred, the number of people affected, and the breach had done the nature of the data exposed, the financial means of the organization, and how much damage. The OCR also considers the organization’s willingness to assist with the investigation. The maximum fine per violation category, per year, is $1,500,000. The fines are issued per violation category, per year that the violation was allowed to persist.

The fines per category are:

  • Category 1: Minimum fine of $100 per violation up to $50,000
  • Category 2: Minimum fine of $1,000 per violation up to $50,000
  • Category 3: Minimum fine of $10,000 per violation up to $50,000
  • Category 4: Minimum fine of $50,000 per violation

Fines may also be levied against an organization depending on how many days over which the violation occurred, instead of by the number of patients affected. For example, if a CE has been denying patients the right to obtain copies of their medical records, and had been doing so for one year, the OCR may decide to apply a penalty per day that the CE has violated the law. Therefore, in this case, the penalty would be multiplied by 365.

HIPAA Compliance and Best Practices

Importance of HIPAA Compliance in Maintaining Patient Trust and Data Security

HIPAA compliance plays an important role in maintaining patient trust in healthcare organizations. By adhering to HIPAA regulations, healthcare providers demonstrate their commitment to safeguarding patients’ privacy and protecting their sensitive health information. Compliance helps prevent unauthorized access, use, and disclosure of PHI, mitigating the risks of data breaches and identity theft. Organizations that prioritize HIPAA compliance enhance their reputation and credibility, establishing a foundation of trust with their patients.

Strategies for Ensuring Compliance

  1. Policies and Procedures: Developing HIPAA policies and procedures tailored to the organization’s specific needs is important. These policies should address privacy, security, and breach notification requirements, outlining the guidelines for protecting PHI and complying with HIPAA regulations.
  2. Employee Training and Awareness: Conducting regular HIPAA training programs for all staff members is necessary. Training should focus on educating employees about their responsibilities in handling PHI, understanding privacy and security requirements, and emphasizing the consequences of non-compliance. Ongoing training and awareness campaigns help reinforce HIPAA policies and best practices.
  3. Risk Assessments and Audits: Regularly conducting risk assessments to identify vulnerabilities and risks is key to ensuring compliance. By identifying areas of weakness, organizations can implement appropriate controls and measures to mitigate risks. Conducting internal audits helps assess compliance with HIPAA requirements and identify areas for improvement.

Tips for Protecting PHI and Preventing Breaches

  1. Secure Data Storage and Transmission: Encrypting electronic PHI (ePHI) during storage and transmission is critical. Utilizing secure access controls, strong passwords, and encryption technologies helps protect data integrity. Regularly backing up data and maintaining offline copies ensures data availability and aids in disaster recovery.
  2. Physical Security Measures: Implementing physical security measures helps prevent unauthorized access to areas where PHI is stored or processed. Restricting access to authorized personnel, utilizing surveillance systems, and employing locked cabinets for physical records enhance data security.
  3. Business Associate Agreements: Establishing written agreements with business associates is essential for ensuring their compliance with HIPAA regulations. These agreements define responsibilities and requirements for handling PHI, ensuring that business associates adhere to the same stringent privacy and security standards.

Understanding Enforcement and Penalties for HIPAA Violations

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is responsible for enforcing HIPAA regulations. Non-compliance with HIPAA can lead to severe penalties, including fines and sanctions. Organizations found in violation of HIPAA may face financial penalties, reputational damage, and increased scrutiny. Organizations must understand the enforcement process, the potential penalties for non-compliance, and the need for prompt action in the event of a breach.

Summary of HIPAA for Dummies

HIPAA compliance is an important aspect of healthcare operations that ensures the protection of patients’ sensitive information and maintains their privacy rights. Compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) involves adhering to a set of regulations and guidelines designed to safeguard electronic protected health information (ePHI). It requires healthcare organizations, covered entities, business associates, and their employees to implement appropriate administrative, physical, and technical safeguards to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of patient data. HIPAA compliance involves developing and implementing policies, procedures, and security measures to prevent unauthorized access, use, or disclosure of ePHI. It also necessitates ongoing employee training and awareness programs to ensure a culture of privacy and security within the organization. Achieving HIPAA compliance not only safeguards patients’ sensitive information but also helps build trust, create a positive reputation, and mitigates the risk of costly breaches and regulatory penalties. By prioritizing HIPAA compliance, healthcare entities demonstrate their commitment to protecting patient privacy and maintaining the highest standards of data security.