Insight to the Industry by



What is PHI or Personal Health Identifier

Filed under: — Justin Mead @ 10:49 am


What is PHI?

Protected health information (PHI) is any information in the medical record or designated record set that can be used to identify an individual and that was created, used, or disclosed in the course of providing a health care service such as diagnosis or treatment. HIPAA regulations allow researchers to access and use PHI when necessary to conduct research. However, HIPAA only affects research that uses, creates, or discloses PHI that will be entered in to the medical record or will be used for healthcare services, such as treatment, payment or operations.

For example, PHI is used in research studies involving review of existing medical records for research information, such as retrospective chart review. Also, studies that create new medical information because a health care service is being performed as part of research, such as diagnosing a health condition or a new drug or device for treating a health condition, create PHI that will be entered into the medical record. For example, sponsored clinical trails that submit data to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration involve PHI and are therefore subject to HIPAA regulations.

List of 18 Identifiers

1. Names;
2. All geographical subdivisions smaller than a State, including street address, city, county, precinct, zip code, and their equivalent geocodes, except for the initial three digits of a zip code, if according to the current publicly available data from the Bureau of the Census: (1) The geographic unit formed by combining all zip codes with the same three initial digits contains more than 20,000 people; and (2) The initial three digits of a zip code for all such geographic units containing 20,000 or fewer people is changed to 000.
3. All elements of dates (except year) for dates directly related to an individual, including birth date, admission date, discharge date, date of death; and all ages over 89 and all elements of dates (including year) indicative of such age, except that such ages and elements may be aggregated into a single category of age 90 or older;
4. Phone numbers;
5. Fax numbers;
6. Electronic mail addresses;
7. Social Security numbers;
8. Medical record numbers;
9. Health plan beneficiary numbers;
10. Account numbers;
11. Certificate/license numbers;
12. Vehicle identifiers and serial numbers, including license plate numbers;
13. Device identifiers and serial numbers;
14. Web Universal Resource Locators (URLs);
15. Internet Protocol (IP) address numbers;
16. Biometric identifiers, including finger and voice prints;
17. Full face photographic images and any comparable images; and
18. Any other unique identifying number, characteristic, or code (note this does not mean the unique code assigned by the investigator to code the data)

There are also additional standards and criteria to protect individual’s privacy from re-identification. Any code used to replace the identifiers in datasets cannot be derived from any information related to the individual and the master codes, nor can the method to derive the codes be disclosed. For example, the unique code cannot include the last four digits (in sequence) of the social security number. Additionally, the researcher must not have actual knowledge that the research subject could be re-identified from the remaining identifiers in the PHI used in the research study. In other words, the information would still be considered identifiable is there was a way to identify the individual even though all of the 18 identifiers were removed.

What is not PHI?

In contrast, some research studies use data that is person-identifiable because it includes personal identifiers such as name, address. However, it is not considered to be PHI because the data are not associated with or derived from a healthcare service event (treatment, payment, operations, medical records), not entered into the medical records, nor will the subject/patient be informed of the results. Research health information that is kept only in the researcher’s records is not subject to HIPAA but is regulated by other human subjects protection regulations.

Examples of research health information not subject to HIPAA include such studies as the use of aggregate data, diagnostic tests that do not go into the medical record because they are part of a basic research study and the results will not be disclosed to the subject, and testing done without the PHI identifiers. Some genetic basic research can fall into this category such as the search for potential genetic markers, promoter control elements, and other exploratory genetic research. In contrast, genetic testing for a known disease that is considered to be part of diagnosis, treatment and health care would be considered to use PHI and therefore subject to HIPAA regulations.

Also note, health information by itself without the 18 identifiers is not considered to be PHI. For example, a dataset of vital signs by themselves do not constitute protected health information. However, if the vital signs dataset includes medical record numbers, then the entire dataset must be protected since it contains an identifier. PHI is anything that can be used to identify an individual such as private information, facial images, fingerprints, and voiceprints. These can be associated with medical records, biological specimens, biometrics, data sets, as well as direct identifiers of the research subjects in clinical trials.

The table below summarizes the characteristics of research data that would be
considered PHI and research data that would be considered RHI (Research Related Health Information).

Characteristic HIPAA

identifiable ie.,
HIPAA definition of IIHI


Used for
support clinical
making for an
or for payment


with healthcareservice event


minimum necessary access control


of person identifiable and non-person
data elements


for creation and
use of

Varies by use

Partneragreements for disclosures


Logs and
audit trails of use and disclosure


with current best

for research records

Right to
request amendment of records

At discretion of investigator

Table source:

Warning: include(/var/www/siteblog/SiteBlog_bundle/wp-comments.php) [function.include]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /var/www/siteblog/blogs/ on line 108

Warning: include() [function.include]: Failed opening '/var/www/siteblog/SiteBlog_bundle/wp-comments.php' for inclusion (include_path='.:/usr/share/php:/usr/share/pear') in /var/www/siteblog/blogs/ on line 108


Reporting Analytics Project

Filed under: — Justin Mead @ 3:57 pm
Denver, Co., December 17th  2007 – Leveraging 13 years of IT experience in business reporting and enterprise applications, development, implementation and migration projects, Justin Mead of Rocky Mountain Managed Information of Loveland Colo., has been contracted by Comsys on behalf of Sprint Nextel Corp. to help consolidate the Fortune 100 company’s call-center operation reporting. 

Starting on Jan. 2 as a Sr. Systems Analyst/PM with Sprint, Mead will:
- identify gap analysis of existing and new reporting efforts
- define requirements for new reporting efforts; and
- follow these processes through the full application development lifecycle (SDLC) from requirements definition, development, testing and on to implementation.

The contract is for 6 months, it likely will extend to 12+ months.  

This is the third contract that Mead has involving Fortune 100 clients. Sprint Nextel Corporation ranks 59th, McKesson came in at 16th and the Fair Isaac client held the ranking of 82nd of the top 100 business in the country. While the industry exposure Mead has had with these projects has ranged from Telecommunications, Healthcare, and Financial the common thread and Mead’s skill set have all been with in facets of reporting analytics. 

Technical solutions Mead will have involvement with while on the Sprint contract will be with in the Microsoft Solutions Framework with ASP, .NET, and SQL Server. 

“The contract opportunities in the greater Denver area are abundant.” Mead said. “I received many interesting offers and projects. I decided to go with Sprint because of the opportunity to take multiple sub projects through the full SDLC while engaged for the duration of the contract.”

Mead wanted to “extend thanks and gratitude” to all recruiters and agencies whom in the last 30 days worked tirelessly to locate an ideal situation where his skills as a Senior Business Systems Analyst with significant reporting functionality could be put into play to meet contracted goals.  

COMSYS IT Partners, Inc. (NASDAQ: CITP) is a leading information technology services company in 52 markets across the U.S. and offices in Canada and the U.K. COMSYS currently serves more than 30% of the Fortune 500 and 60% of the Fortune 100 companies. With approximately 5,000 consultants in 52 markets in the U.S, Canada and the U.K. COMSYS can deliver services onsite, offsite or offshore. For more information, visit 

Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) offers a comprehensive range of wireless and wireline communications services bringing the freedom of mobility to consumers, businesses and government users. Sprint Nextel is widely recognized for developing, engineering and deploying innovative technologies, including two robust wireless networks serving about 54 million customers at the end of the third quarter 2007; industry-leading mobile data services; instant national and international walkie-talkie capabilities; and a global Tier 1 Internet backbone. For more information, visit 

Rocky Mountain Managed information, (RM-Mi) has been managing Information since 2004 for it’s clients to provide a competitive business advantage whether it is in business systems analysis, data integration, application development, web hosting and site design or marketing and copy writing of presentations or technical documentation, RM-Mi offers diversified Information Consultant Services. 

Feel free to send inquiries as to the status of this project and or future projects to and or for more information visit



Mountain Managed Information

Consulting Services since 2004 ::
Business Data Systems
Specification Design Analysis
Fx: 970-669-4413

Profile on Linkedin
Profile on Yahoo


Yahoo IM
- Add
Justin to your friend list

Warning: include(/var/www/siteblog/SiteBlog_bundle/wp-comments.php) [function.include]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /var/www/siteblog/blogs/ on line 108

Warning: include() [function.include]: Failed opening '/var/www/siteblog/SiteBlog_bundle/wp-comments.php' for inclusion (include_path='.:/usr/share/php:/usr/share/pear') in /var/www/siteblog/blogs/ on line 108


Consulting on Business Intelligence and COGNOS

Filed under: — Justin Mead @ 11:27 am

The other day I saw a posting on one of the COGNOS discussion boards and here is the reprint of the question and my answer…

Cognos Consultancy, Contractor Opportunities - Training- Career

Asked by David … on 12/2/2007 1:10:00 PM

Hi. Firstly I apologise if this is the wrong area to post this.I am an ex business manager.(A Man, taken 5 years out to bring up our two children while my wife pursues her career) 30yrs plus experience in a number of high tech industries in sales and marketing at a senior level(software / engineering/ semiconductors/ print/chemicals/lithography /electronics/++++) I have spent some time looking into Business Intelligence software and it seems Cognos is an excellent set of applications and solutions. They seem to have a comprehensive set of training tools both office and e based.

With determination and commitment would it be possible to embark upon the Cognos training as an individual and then be in a reasonable position to be considered as a Cognos consultant/ contractor upon completion.I am ore than willing to fund the invetment if there is a reasonable possibility of success.Business Intelligence seems to be an area that is ideally suited to my basic inquisitive and research orientated personality and I am in a good position with an MBA and a long business career to understand the requirements of customers across different functionalities.
Any help or advice is appreciated.


Reply from justin on 12/3/2007 8:17:00 PM

Dear Dave,

It really is a matter of what your business model is for yourself. If you are asking the question ‘can I take a series of courses and then position my self in the field as…’ the short answer is sure you can position yourself as Dorthy from OZ if you would like but the proof is in the pudding and to get repeat business and or referrals you will want to make sure you place your skills and experiences in the right manor.

Given your previous life in business with a mark/com and sales of technology it is feasible that you could place your self as a COGNOS trainer of the entry level UI tools but to go further then that you would need to distinctly need to re-evaluate what your position/business model is.

To be effective in BI, really takes time directly in the roles working up through the ranks of user, developer, back end architect before you get to consultant. As a trainer, the ones who have value are the ones who clearly have applied experience and can solve the trainees real-world problems during the classes. To be effective in BI as a consultant takes enough depth of skills / experiences to find creative solutions to very complicated situations.

Other wise you become Dilbert fodder.

It may be an easier pitch to go get PMI certified, start being a Project Manager and then focus on projects in the BI world and learn and gain experience from that angle to then be a Program Manager and or work to the consulting.

The real issue to learn how to solve is data. Data quality, what are the business KPI (key performance indicators) that are the reporting facts, to intimately understand the architectural affects of the system, to be able to translate business to technology and simplify technology keeping the eye on the ROI and deliverables.

My thoughts.

Justin Mead

Rocky Mountain Managed Information
:: Consulting Services since 2004 :: Business Data Systems
Integration Specification Design Analysis
3 0 3 5 8 8 1 9 9 6 justin(at)rm-mi(dot)net
Profile on Linkedin
Profile on Yahoo


Warning: include(/var/www/siteblog/SiteBlog_bundle/wp-comments.php) [function.include]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /var/www/siteblog/blogs/ on line 108

Warning: include() [function.include]: Failed opening '/var/www/siteblog/SiteBlog_bundle/wp-comments.php' for inclusion (include_path='.:/usr/share/php:/usr/share/pear') in /var/www/siteblog/blogs/ on line 108


Code source described in WIRED piece

Filed under: — Justin Mead @ 12:42 pm,70219-0.html

By Dylan Tweney | Also by this reporter
02:00 AM Feb, 17, 2006

For most people, open source is a synonym for free software. But for programmers, open source is about sharing code, building on the work of others and not having to reinvent the wheel — at least, that’s the ideal. In practice, code reuse remains very low, because it’s often too hard for programmers to find relevant bits of code for their applications.

A new search engine for programmers promises to alleviate that problem by making it easier to find and share code. That in turn could increase programmers’ productivity and give a fresh boost to the open-source movement.

Krugle, which launches officially next month, indexes programming code and documentation from open-source repositories like SourceForge and includes corporate sites for programmers like the Sun Developer Network. The index will cover around 100 million pages of what company founder Ken Krugler terms the "technical web" — high-quality technical pages for professional programmers. (By contrast, Google’s index covers about 11 billion pages.)

"This winds up being a window on all the open-source code in the world," said Krugler, who estimates the Krugle index will contain between 3 and 5 terabytes of code by the time the engine launches in March.

The new service joins other source-code search engines like Koders and Codefetch, but Krugle intends to differentiate itself by allowing developers to annotate code and documentation, create bookmarks and save collections of search results in a tabbed workspace. Saved workspaces have unique URLs, so developers can send an entire collection of annotated code to a co-worker just by e-mailing a link.

Krugle also contains intelligence to help it parse code and to differentiate programming languages, so a PHP developer could search for a website-registration system written in PHP simply by typing "PHP registration system."

Greg Olson, a co-founder of early open-source success story Sendmail and a consultant with the Olliance Group said Krugle will make it easier to reuse program components — something that the open-source movement has long promised, but never effectively delivered on. (Olson advised Krugle on the startup’s open-source usage.)

"It’s so cumbersome now to use tools like Google to search for code that the majority of programmers just write their own code," said Olson — even if they know that an open-source component is probably available that would meet their needs. "If you can’t find the pieces, it’s too frustrating to try to reuse components. But if you can reuse components, you can get a factor-of-10 improvement in productivity."

Simon Phipps, the chief open-source officer for Sun Microsystems, said Krugle could be useful as a learning tool, but the many different licenses that apply to open-source code are a potential stumbling block. In addition to the widely used Gnu Public License, Mozilla Foundation projects have their own licensing terms — and copyright holders may retain some rights even in otherwise publicly available open-source code, said Phipps.

"Let’s say you turn up a bit of code that’s licensed under the GPL … if you use it, that means your whole project needs to be licensed under the GPL. I hope that people are aware of these issues, because the licensing situation could get pretty hairy."

Krugle will make money from advertising on its free, public search engine. The company is also planning to create an enterprise edition, due in 2007, to facilitate code-sharing within companies.

Warning: include(/var/www/siteblog/SiteBlog_bundle/wp-comments.php) [function.include]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /var/www/siteblog/blogs/ on line 108

Warning: include() [function.include]: Failed opening '/var/www/siteblog/SiteBlog_bundle/wp-comments.php' for inclusion (include_path='.:/usr/share/php:/usr/share/pear') in /var/www/siteblog/blogs/ on line 108