National Consumers League


NCL Health Issues

Health privacy glossary of terms

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Be your own best advocate and learn to speak the language of protecting your health privacy rights.

Disclosure – Health information is disclosed when it is released, transferred, has been given access to, or otherwise divulged outside the entity holding the health information.

Health care provider – Any person or entity that furnishes, bills or is paid for health care in the normal course of business. The term includes persons (such as dentists, doctors, and psychotherapists), entities (such as hospitals and clinics), alternative care providers (such as homeopaths and acupuncturists), and both the providers of care and services and the providers of health supplies (such as pharmacists).

Health information – Any oral or recorded information relating to the past, present or future physical or mental health of an individual, including the provision of health care to the individual, or the payment for health care. The term covers not only the traditional medical records but also a doctor’s personal notes and billing information.

Health care operations – Service that includes quality assessment and improvement activities, case management and care coordination, reviewing the competence or qualifications of health care professionals, underwriting, arranging for legal services, business planning, customer service, resolution of internal grievances, fundraising and other activities.

Health plan – Any individual or group plan that provides or pays for medical care. The term includes both private and governmental plans.

Individually identifiable health information – Health information that identifies or reasonably can be used to identify an individual person.

Marketing – A communication about a product or service that encourages the recipient to purchase or use the product or service. Communications related to health care are not considered marketing.

Treatment – The provision, coordination, or management of health care, including consultations and referrals between health care providers.

Use – Health information is used when it is shared, examined, utilized, applied or analyzed within a covered entity that maintains the health information