HIPAA regulates the collection and use of Protected Health Information (PHI). This is any data that could identify a patient such as name, phone number, medical record number, etc. The NurseMind app collects no PHI. For example, patients are identified only by their initials or by a nickname.
What does this mean in practical terms? It means that if you are using the NurseMind app as we recommend (not collecting patient identifiers) then you do not risk making HIPAA violations.
If you are sharing medical data (such as in our Share-Your-Brain Contest) you must first make sure that no patient identifiers are present in the data you share with us (or with anyone else).
The relevant legislation is Section 1171 of Part C of Subtitle F of Public Law 104-191 (August 21, 1996): Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996: Administrative Simplification. It says that you must delete:
(B) All geographic subdivisions smaller than a State, including street address, city, county, precinct, zip code, and their equivalent geocodes, except for the initial three digits of a zip code if, according to the current publicly available data from the Bureau of the Census:
(1) The geographic unit formed by combining all zip codes with the same three initial digits contains more than 20,000 people; and
(2) The initial three digits of a zip code for all such geographic units containing 20,000 or fewer people is changed to 000.
(C) All elements of dates (except year) for dates directly related to an individual, including birth date, admission date, discharge date, date of death; and all ages over 89 and all elements of dates (including year) indicative of such age, except that such ages and elements may be aggregated into a single category of age 90 or older;
(D) Telephone numbers;
(E) Fax numbers;
(F) Electronic mail addresses;
(G) Social security numbers;
(H) Medical record numbers;
(I) Health plan beneficiary numbers;
(J) Account numbers;
(K) Certificate/license numbers;
(L) Vehicle identifiers and serial numbers, including license plate numbers;
(M) Device identifiers and serial numbers;
(N) Web Universal Resource Locators (URLs);
(O) Internet Protocol (IP) address numbers;
(P) Biometric identifiers, including finger and voice prints;
(Q) Full face photographic images and any comparable images; and
(R) Any other unique identifying number, characteristic, or code
We hope this helps us all stay out of trouble!