New Resources Available to Help Understand and Digest Health Information Laws

WASHINGTON, DC (September 12, 2013)—Health Information & the Law, a project at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services (SPHHS), released new resources on a website that offers easy-to-understand content on key issues related to the use and exchange of health information and how it affects the transformation of the U.S. health care system to a patient-centered, value-based system.                  

“The exchange of health information is critical to the transformation of our health care system,” says Jane Hyatt Thorpe, JD, project co-director and associate professor of health policy at the SPHHS. “These two new resources will help policymakers, consumers, health professionals, providers, and others better understand how health information laws can support rather than hinder the exchange of health information.”

The two new resources, Fast Facts and Myth Busters, add to the website’s library of material on federal and state laws governing the access, use, release and publication of health information.

Both offer insight into federal and state laws and regulations that govern health information, including implications for health care delivery, payment and beyond. Examples of the new resources now available at include:

· Fast Facts: What types of data do public health agencies collect?

· Myth Buster: MYTH: Public health data exception to HIPAA

· Fast Facts: How is data collected & used in a health insurance marketplace?

· Myth Buster: MYTH: Patients may sue providers for disclosing patient health information in violation of HIPAA

This library of resources will continue to grow over time and will include Fast Facts and Myth Busters on topics such as privacy and confidentiality, health information technology, HIPAA, public health data, health insurance marketplaces, and security. These new series augment existing resources available at including summaries of federal and state laws and regulations governing health information as well as in-depth analyses, comparative state maps and decision tools.

“Health information laws can be quite complex,” said Lara Cartwright-Smith, JD, MPH, project co-director and assistant research professor of health policy at the SPPHS. “These new resources, as well as the other content on the website, are intended to break down common misperceptions and barriers and highlight opportunities for broader health information exchange.”

Health Information & the Law is a project of the George Washington University’s Hirsh Health Law and Policy Program, developed with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. 

The new resources and additional material can be accessed at


About the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services:

Established in July 1997, the School of Public Health and Health Services brought together three longstanding university programs in the schools of medicine, business, and education and is now the only school of public health in the nation’s capital. Today, more than 1,100 students from nearly every U.S. state and more than 40 nations pursue undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral-level degrees in public health.  The school now offers an online Master of Public Health, MPH@GW, which allows students to pursue their degree from anywhere in the world.