HIPAA Data Use Agreement Limited Data Set: What You Need to Know

HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, is a federal law that protects the privacy and security of individuals` health information. As such, all healthcare providers that handle protected health information (PHI) must abide by HIPAA regulations.

One aspect of HIPAA that healthcare providers must understand is the use of limited data sets. A limited data set is a subset of PHI that does not contain certain identifying information about patients, such as names, dates of birth, and addresses. This subset of data is used for research and other purposes, which is why HIPAA allows covered entities to disclose limited data sets without patient authorization under certain conditions.

However, in order to disclose a limited data set, covered entities must enter into a HIPAA data use agreement with the recipient of the data. This agreement outlines how the limited data set can and cannot be used, and it requires the recipient to protect the data with appropriate safeguards.

What is a HIPAA Data Use Agreement?

A HIPAA data use agreement is a legal agreement between a covered entity and a recipient of PHI. The agreement allows the covered entity to disclose a limited data set to the recipient for a specific purpose, such as research, public health, or healthcare operations.

The agreement must include the following information:

– A description of the limited data set being disclosed

– The purpose of the disclosure

– The recipient`s obligations to protect the data

– Provisions for reporting any breaches of the data

– The duration of the agreement

– A statement that the recipient cannot re-identify the patients in the limited data set

Why Use a Limited Data Set?

Limited data sets are used for research and other purposes when full PHI is not necessary. By removing certain identifying information, patients` privacy is protected while still allowing researchers and other entities to use the data for important purposes.

For example, a limited data set might be used to study the prevalence of a certain condition in a specific population, without revealing individual patients` identities. This can help improve patient care and inform public health policies without compromising privacy.


HIPAA data use agreement limited data sets are an important tool for healthcare providers, researchers, and other entities that need access to PHI for specific purposes. By using these subsets of data, patient privacy is protected while still allowing important research and healthcare initiatives to move forward. Covered entities must understand and abide by the specific requirements for disclosing limited data sets, including entering into a HIPAA data use agreement with the recipient of the data.

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