If an individual requests an electronic copy of the individual’s PHI that the covered entity maintains only on paper, is the covered entity required to scan the paper records to create an electronic copy of the PHI for the individual?
While a covered entity is not required to purchase a scanner to create electronic copies, if a covered entity can readily produce an electronic copy of the PHI for the individual by scanning the records, it must do so. In particular, if an individual requests an electronic copy of PHI in a specific format, and a covered entity maintains that PHI only on paper, the covered entity must provide the individual with the electronic copy, in the format requested, if the copy is readily producible electronically and readily producible in the electronic format requested. If the copy is readily producible electronically but not in the specific format requested, the covered entity may offer the individual the copy in an alternative readable electronic format. If the copy is not readily producible in electronic form, or the individual declines to accept the electronic format(s) that are readily producible by the covered entity, then the covered entity may provide the individual with a readable hard copy of the PHI to satisfy the access request. See § 164.524(c)(2)(i). For example, a covered entity that maintains the requested PHI only on paper may be able to readily produce a scanned PDF version of the PHI but not the requested Word version. In this case, the covered entity may provide the individual with the PDF version if the individual agrees to accept the PDF version. If the individual declines to accept the PDF version, or if the covered entity is not able to readily produce a PDF or other electronic version of the PHI, the covered entity may provide the individual with a hard copy, such as a photocopy, of the PHI.