HomeTechnologyWhat is the Minimum Necessary Rule in HIPAA?

What is the Minimum Necessary Rule in HIPAA?

The HIPAA Compliant Email Privacy Rule requires covered entities and business associates to make reasonable efforts to limit access to protected health information (PHI) to the minimum amount of information necessary for a particular disclosure, request or use.

While there are exceptions to the minimum necessary standard, it is important for covered entities to develop policies and procedures to adhere to this rule. Moreover, it is vital for them to implement a strong compliance culture within their practices. Keep your business finances clean and organized with our top lease accounting software!

Covered Entities

The minimum necessary rule in HIPAA requires covered entities and business associates to develop policies and procedures governing their uses and disclosures of PHI. These policies and procedures must reflect the covered entity’s practices and workforce, with a focus on protecting privacy and security.

The rule applies to all forms of protected health information (PHI) including physical, telehealth, electronic, insurance claims, films, images, spoken health information, and more. The standard requires that covered entities and business associates make reasonable efforts to limit access to PHI to those persons who need to have such access for the purpose of the use or disclosure, and disclose only an amount of protected health information that is reasonably necessary to achieve that purpose.

The standard also applies to researchers and healthcare workers who make requests for information based on their job duties. Covered entities and business associates should develop policies and procedures for determining whether a request is for the minimum necessary information and should ensure that employees receive training on the new rules and regulations.

Business Associates

The HIPAA Privacy Rule applies only to covered entities – health plans, health care clearinghouses, and certain health care providers. However, most health care providers and health plans do not carry out all of their health care activities and functions by themselves, and they often use the services of a variety of other persons or businesses which are known as “business associates.”

The business associate rule in HIPAA is very important because it requires that any party who stores, processes, transmits, maintains, or touches protected health information (PHI) is required to be compliant with the Rules. The rule also requires that business associates make reasonable efforts to limit access to PHI to only those who need it for their specific job duties or responsibilities.

In addition, the Rule requires that a covered entity take reasonable steps to cure a breach or end a violation of a business associate contract by a business associate when a covered entity has knowledge of such a breach. This requirement was intended to prevent business associates from entering into contracts or agreements with a covered entity that do not allow for such a cure.


The minimum necessary rule is the standard that ensures that individuals have access to only the information that they need. It applies to both physical and electronic PHI.

Basically, you can’t give someone a patient’s medical history if it’s not necessary for them to complete their job. That includes things like a medical transcriptionist, claims processing administrator, or cloud service provider (CSP).

You also can’t allow someone to view the files of an unrelated patient. If that happened, you would violate HIPAA.

Make sure that anyone who needs to access PHI in order to do their job has a written authorization. This can be a letter signed by the individual or a signature on a form that they have signed.


The exceptions rule is one of the most confusing areas of HIPAA. With over 50 uses of the word “exception,” and 100+ uses of the word “except,” it can be difficult to navigate this part of the law without professional guidance.

A HIPAA compliance expert will help you identify and prioritize the exceptions that apply to your organization. These may include a limited data set, public health, and disclosures to law enforcement officers.

Moreover, there are a number of other situations in which PHI can be disclosed without patient consent or authorization.

In these cases, it is important to consider the reasons behind the exception and determine whether you have breached your HIPAA obligations.


For example, the public health exception allows county hospitals to disclose protected health information to a local health department for the purpose of reducing childhood asthma in the community. The health department then analyzes this information on a weekly basis and provides this data to the public in order to reduce asthma attacks.


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