NRPM: Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information. 5. Application to business partners. (§ 164.506(e))

11/03/1999

In § 164.506(e), we propose to require covered entities to take specific steps to ensure that protected health information disclosed to a business partner remains protected. We intend these provisions to allow customary business relationships in the health care industry to continue while providing privacy protections to the information shared in these relationships. Business partners would not be permitted to use or disclose protected health information in ways that would not be permitted of the covered entity itself under these rules.

Other than for purposes of consultation or referral for treatment, we would allow covered entities to disclose protected health information to business partners only pursuant to a written contract that would, among other specified provisions, limit the business partner’s uses and disclosures of protected health information to those permitted by the contract, and would impose certain security, inspection and reporting requirements on the business partner. We would hold the covered entity responsible for certain violations of this proposed rule made by their business partners, and require assignment of responsibilities when a covered entity acts as a business partner of another covered entity.