Health Information Management

HIPAA Q&A: You’ve got questions. We’ve got answers

HIM-HIPAA Insider, March 9, 2015

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Submit your HIPAA questions to Editor Jaclyn Fitzgerald at and we will work with our experts to provide you with the information you need.

Q: Does HIPAA permit organizations allowed to network computers internally or externally? For example, can a covered entity (CE) link two computer systems within the organization or between the organization and another CE or business associate to exchange information? If so, what is the most secure way to accomplish this?
A: HIPAA is technology neutral and does not prohibit networking computers internally or externally. If networking internally, the organization should ensure it has a strong perimeter (i.e., installing and regularly updating a firewall and anti-malware). If networking to an external computer, the CE should establish a secure method of communication (i.e., using a virtual private network, secure web, or some other method of ensuring the patient data is encrypted when it travels outside of a closed or secure network).
Editor’s note: Chris Apgar, CISSP, president of Apgar & Associates, LLC, in Portland, Oregon, answered this question for HCPro’s Briefings on HIPAA newsletter. This information does not constitute legal advice. Consult legal counsel for answers to specific privacy and security questions.

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