Using Microsoft Azure for RHI Data Storage

Researchers utilizing Research Health Information (RHI) in their work can use Microsoft Azure to store the data and ensure it is kept securely.

Ohio State does not permit the use or storage of Protected Health Information (PHI) in university-configured Microsoft Azure services, and RHI requires significant efforts to ensure that the systems meet S4 security requirements. For information regarding PHI/RHI storage and use of Med Center derived data, individuals should contact the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center's risk assessment team. Privacy questions related to how the university permits data to be used can be addressed to the university's privacy team.

  • The vast majority of medical data used in research is considered RHI, which is not regulated under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and thus has different storage requirements than HIPAA and/or Protected Health Information (PHI) data.
  • The Office of Technology and Digital Innovation's (OTDI) Digital Security and Trust (DST) team has set up a webpage of RHI-related resources, which can help you properly identify and secure RHI data. 

Researchers can learn more about proper RHI, PHI and HIPAA data use in the university’s Protected Health Information and HIPAA Policy. Researchers who have questions about how to handle RHI or other health information can reach out to or their department’s security coordinator for assistance.

Setting up an Azure Account

Azure is a private and public cloud platform that provides a set of services that allow you to build, manage and deploy applications on a massive, global network using your favorite tools and frameworks. Applications may include any program or piece of software designed and written to fulfill a particular purpose for the user.

Faculty and staff who do not already have a university Azure account and are interested in signing up for one, can follow the instructions in the Ohio State Azure Readiness Checklist. Talk with your local IT staff to share your use case before making a request. Some college or department may have additional requirements concerning the use of Azure and/or offer alternative options for meeting faculty and staff technology needs.

OTDI offers a university-configured Microsoft Azure service to faculty and staff for approved university business. Ohio State adds the following features to the standard offering:

  • Integrated billing – your charges will be paid from your Ohio State account;
  • Access scalable, on-demand computing, database, storage, and application services;
  • Special training events; and
  • Microsoft support specialists, Azure cloud architects and engineers.

For more information about the Ohio State Azure service, visit the university's Azure service page.