Under the HIPAA Privacy Rule, do individuals have the right to an electronic copy of their PHI?
This guidance remains in effect only to the extent that it is consistent with the court’s order in Ciox Health, LLC v. Azar, No. 18-cv-0040 (D.D.C. January 23, 2020), which may be found at https://ecf.dcd.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/show_public_doc?2018cv0040-51. More information about the order is available at https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/court-order-right-of-access/index.html. Any provision within this guidance that has been vacated by the Ciox Health decision is rescinded.
Yes, in most cases. If the PHI is maintained by a covered entity electronically, an individual has a right to receive an electronic copy of the information upon request (assuming the covered entity does not have a ground for denial under 45 CFR 164.524(a)(2) or (a)(3)). The covered entity must provide the individual with access to the PHI in the electronic form and format requested by the individual, if it is readily producible in that form and format, or if not, in a readable alternative electronic format as agreed to by the individual and covered entity. See 45 CFR 164.524(c)(2)(ii). Where an individual requests access to PHI that is maintained electronically by a covered entity, the covered entity may provide the individual with a paper copy of the PHI to satisfy the request only in cases where the individual declines to accept any of the electronic formats readily producible by the covered entity.
If the individual requests an electronic copy of PHI that the covered entity maintains only on paper, the covered entity must provide the individual with the electronic copy if the copy is readily producible electronically (e.g., the covered entity can readily scan the paper record into an electronic format) and in the electronic format requested if readily producible in that format, or if not, in a readable alternative electronic format as agreed to by the covered entity and individual. If the copy is not readily producible in electronic form, or the individual declines to accept the electronic format(s) readily producible by the covered entity, then a readable hard copy of the PHI may be provided to satisfy the access request. See 45 CFR 164.524(c)(2)(i).