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The Health Information Technology for Economic & Clinical Health (HITECH) act really does 'up the ante' for HIPAA enforcement. In theory Health organizations have had to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) since its introduction in 1996. Originally HIPAA was introduced by congress to protect the health insurance rights of employees made redundant. Additional 'Titles' to the act were introduced including 'Title 2' which was designed to protect electronically stored data relating to patient health information - often referred to as 'Protected Health Information' (PHI).
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