HIPAA is the United States Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. There are two sections to the Act. HIPAA Title I deals with protecting health insurance coverage for people who lose or change jobs. HIPAA Title II includes an administrative simplification section which deals with the standardization of healthcare-related information systems. In the information technology industries, this section is what most people mean when they refer to HIPAA. HIPAA establishes mandatory regulations that require extensive changes to the way that health providers conduct business.
HIPAA seeks to establish standardized mechanisms for electronic data interchange (EDI), security, and confidentiality of all healthcare-related data. The Act mandates: standardized formats for all patient health, administrative, and financial data; unique identifiers (ID numbers) for each healthcare entity, including individuals, employers, health plans and health care providers; and security mechanisms to ensure confidentiality and data integrity for any information that identifies an individual.