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In today's globalized economy, many companies operate across borders and may come into contact with sensitive health information of individuals in the United States. As a result, these international companies may be subject to the regulations set forth by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

HIPAA is a U.S. law that was enacted in 1996 to protect the privacy and security of individuals' health information. It applies to certain entities and individuals within the United States, such as health care providers, health plans, and their business associates.

Business associates are defined as entities that perform functions or activities on behalf of a covered entity that involve the use or disclosure of protected health information (PHI). This can include companies that provide services such as data storage, billing, and claims processing.

This post will provide insight on whether international companies need follow HIPAA regulations.

See also: HIPAA Compliant Email: The Definitive Guide


Why would an international company need to abide by HIPAA?


Now that we've done a recap on HIPAAA, why would an international company need to abide by it?

The answer is simple: if an international company is handling or transmitting PHI of U.S. citizens, it is considered a business associate of a covered entity and is therefore subject to HIPAA regulations. This applies to companies of all sizes, whether they are a small startup or a large multinational corporation.


Examples of international companies being subject to HIPAA


One example of where an international company may need to comply with HIPAA is if it is providing cloud storage services to a U.S.-based health care provider. In this scenario, the international company would be responsible for ensuring the security and privacy of the PHI stored on its servers, in accordance with HIPAA regulations. This would include implementing appropriate technical, physical, and administrative safeguards to protect the PHI from unauthorized access, use, or disclosure.

Another example would be an international pharmaceutical company that conducts clinical trials in the U.S. HIPAA would be applicable in this scenario because the company would be collecting, using and disclosing PHI of the individuals participating in the trials.


HIPAA provides essential protection


HIPAA compliance can be a complex and challenging task for international companies, but it is essential to protect the rights and privacy of U.S. citizens. Not only is it a legal requirement, but it also helps to build trust and credibility with customers, partners, and regulatory bodies.

Additionally, failure to comply with HIPAA can result in significant penalties, including fines and potential legal action. In order to avoid these risks, international companies should take steps to ensure that they are in compliance with HIPAA regulations. This may include conducting a risk assessment, developing a compliance program, and implementing appropriate security controls.

See also: Paubox renews, expands HITRUST CSF certification through 2023




In conclusion, international companies that handle or transmit PHI of U.S. citizens may be subject to HIPAA regulations as a business associate of a covered entity.

Compliance with HIPAA may be complex, but it is essential to protect the rights and privacy of U.S. citizens, as well as to avoid penalties and legal action.

International companies should take steps to ensure that they are in compliance with HIPAA regulations and protect the sensitive information of U.S. citizens in their care.

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