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Do the HIPAA Rules allow a covered entity or business associate to use a CSP that stores ePHI on servers outside of the United States?


Yes, provided the covered entity (or business associate) enters into a business associate agreement (BAA) with the CSP and otherwise complies with the applicable requirements of the HIPAA Rules. However, while the HIPAA Rules do not include requirements specific to protection of electronic protected health information (ePHI) processed or stored by a CSP or any other business associate outside of the United States, OCR notes that the risks to such ePHI may vary greatly depending on its geographic location. In particular, outsourcing storage or other services for ePHI overseas may increase the risks and vulnerabilities to the information or present special considerations with respect to enforceability of privacy and security protections over the data. Covered entities (and business associates, including the CSP) should take these risks into account when conducting the risk analysis and risk management required by the Security Rule. See 45 CFR ยงยง 164.308(a)(1)(ii)(A) and (a)(1)(ii)(B). For example, if ePHI is maintained in a country where there are documented increased attempts at hacking or other malware attacks, such risks should be considered, and entities must implement reasonable and appropriate technical safeguards to address such threats.

Content created by Office for Civil Rights (OCR)
Content last reviewed on October 6, 2016