The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has published a new HIPAA Privacy Rule guidance as part of its "Privacy and Security Toolkit" (the "Toolkit") developed in connection with "The Nationwide Privacy and Security Framework for Electronic Exchange of Individually Identifiable Health Information" (the "HIE Framework").  The new HIPAA guidance is available on the OCR Privacy Rule web site.

The federal government developed the HIE Framework and Toolkit in order to establish privacy and security principles for health care stakeholders engaged in electronic health information exchange ("e-HIE").  The documents also include tools to help implement these principles. Among other things, the new HIPAA Privacy Rule guidance document discusses how the Privacy Rule supports and can facilitate e-HIE in a networked environment.  In addition, the documents address electronic access by patients to his/her PHI, and how the Privacy Rule applies to and supports the use of Personal Health Records.