The effects of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act privacy rule on influenza research using geographical information systems

  • Norisse Tellman | nmisdary@gmail.com National Center for Occupational Health and Infection Control, Veterans Health Administration, Gainesville, FL, United States.
  • Eric R. Litt Rehabilitation Outcomes Research Center, Veterans Health Administration, Gainesville, FL, United States.
  • Caprice Knapp National Center for Occupational Health and Infection Control, Veterans Health Administration, Gainesville, FL; Departments of Epidemiology and Health Policy Research, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, United States.
  • Aaron Eagan National Center for Occupational Health and Infection Control, Veterans Health Administration, Gainesville, FL, United States.
  • Jing Cheng Division of Oral Epidemiology and Dental Public Health University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, United States.
  • Lewis J. Jr Radonovich National Center for Occupational Health and Infection Control, Veterans Health Administration, Gainesville, FL, United States.

Abstract

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy rule was enacted to protect patients’ personal health information from undue disclosure. Despite its intention to protect patients, recent reports suggest that HIPAA restrictions may be negatively impacting health research. Quantitative, visual geographical and statistical analysis of zip code geographical information systems (GIS) mapping, comparing 3-digit HIPAA-compliant and 5-digit HIPAA-non-compliant simulated data, was chosen to identify and describe the type of distortion that may result. It was found that unmitigated HIPAA compliance with HIPAA mapping rules distorted the GIS zip code data by 28% leading to erroneous results. Thus, compliance with HIPAA privacy rule when mapping may lead investigators to publish erroneous GIS maps.

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Published
2010-11-01
Section
Original Articles
Keywords:
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), influenza, infectious disease, outbreak, infectious disease transmission, geographical information systems.
Statistics
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How to Cite
Tellman, N., Litt, E. R., Knapp, C., Eagan, A., Cheng, J., & Radonovich, L. J. J. (2010). The effects of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act privacy rule on influenza research using geographical information systems. Geospatial Health, 5(1), 3-9. https://doi.org/10.4081/gh.2010.182