One of the biggest questions I hear all the time from attorneys is about the difference between HITECH and HIPAA. Whenever I bring this up in one of my presentations, eyes light up in the room. When we include this type of slide, I see cameras taking pictures.

By now, many lawyers understand the basics of HITECH; some don’t. However, even those who think they have a decent understanding really don’t know HITECH and HIPAA at the level we do. Our medical record retrieval service, CARS, has successfully completed thousands of HITECH requests. We are experts because we have the data. Nobody else has done more analysis of HITECH and HIPAA that is based on enough cases and over a broad enough time period to assess the real differences.

On the surface, we all know the process with HIPAA generally takes less time. Everyone knows that HITECH saves you money over HIPAA. Beyond those differences, however, the understanding begins to fall apart.

Taking a deeper dive into the differences can help you determine which method is more appropriate for your case. For example, when you need to get records back quickly, HIPAA’s what you want to do. However, HIPAA may cause all sorts of hiccups to deal with. If you aren’t in a rush, HITECH might be right.


HIPAA is the standard request used to retrieve medical records. With a HIPAA request, there’s a shorter turnaround time, averaging 30 days, compared to HITECH, which can take an average of 45 days. When you use HIPAA, you can request specific record types. The downside to HIPAA is the cost, which is 33% higher on average than HITECH. HIPAA requests are best used for cases with tight deadlines and when you need specific records.



After many years of only being able to request records with HIPAA, HITECH was passed to encourage doctors and hospitals to use electronic health records, as well as set additional privacy and security measures for electronic records. HITECH requests are initiated by the patient. The cost of using HITECH requests is significantly lower than the cost of HIPAA requests but the turnaround time can be longer. In general, HITECH requests are best for cases where many records are needed.

Put Simply

HIPAA at a Glance

  • Law firm or medical records retrieval company initiated
  • Averages $60.69 per request
  • Average 30-day turnaround
  • Ability to request specific record types
  • Best suited for cases with tight deadlines or where a limited number of specific pages are needed
  • Patient-initiated
  • Averages $20.21 per request
  • Average 45-day turnaround
  • Complete set of records
  • Best suited for cases requiring a large volume of records

CARS: Your Preferred Partner for HIPAA and HITECH

Retrieving medical records can cost your firm in time, resources, and money. You may need to send demand letters to the facility to get them to comply quickly. Providers may try to tack on extra charges that aren’t allowed under HITECH, which means you or your staff will need to make numerous calls to get invoices corrected. Figuring out whether you should use HITECH or HIPAA can be a daunting task.

At Consumer Attorney Record Services, our team members specialize in HITECH and HIPAA requests. We can advise you on a case-by-case basis and can take care of the details, from the
initial contact all the way through medical record review. CARS is
HIPAA compliant and operates with the highest standards of security
and privacy. We upload your medical records to an online portal,
where all information is secured through 256-bit encryption.

CARS provides:

  • Nationwide record retrieval
  • Proprietary database of 90,000+ facilities
  • Easy to access, secure online portal
  • Pre-paid provider fees
  • No per page cost or hidden fees
  • Seamless integration with Consumer Attorney Contract Services

Improve Your Efficiency

With HITECH requests, you receive a full set of medical records, which can be tens of thousands of pages. The facility may still leave out records you need for your case, such as billing statements, radiology or pathology reports. We sort through the records to find the records you need. If records are missing, we’ll follow up to make sure you receive them, at no extra charge.

We know pouring through volumes of records is time-consuming. CARS offers complete medical review services that are specifically designed for plaintiff mass tort and personal injury attorneys. Outsourcing your medical record reviews to CARS will save you time and money.

If you use CAMG for contract services, we automatically create requests in our online portal, complete with your client’s signed HIPAA or HITECH documents. This saves you valuable time, since you don’t have to enter any request data.

Get started with CARS today. Contact (800) 200-CAMG.

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