The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has released a guide that federal agencies can use to help them understand HIPAA's security requirements.

The HIPAA Security Rule sets out requirements for protecting electronic protected health information. Organizations affected by HIPAA face an April 20 deadline for compliance with rule, except for small entities, which have another year to comply.

The NIST Special Publication 800-66 summarizes the HIPAA security standards and aims to educate readers about the terms used in the HIPAA Security Rule and to help them understand the meaning of the security standards.

The NIST guide is intended to help federal agencies understand the HIPAA Security Rule, but state and local governments as well as private companies are encouraged to consider the guidelines too.