What are PDF-Healthcare files used for?
PDF/H is used in the medical and healthcare sectors, particularly in the US. Medical professionals like doctors and researchers will often encounter these files. They’re not typically used in the UK.
In the US, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) governs the protection of health data. Under the HIPAA Privacy Rule, US healthcare providers must meet minimum standards for electronic documents that include people’s personal data.
The PDF/H standard was created in line with the HIPAA guidance for secure management of patient records in the US.
PDFs in healthcare - the bigger picture.
Moving away from the PDF/H file subset, we’ll look briefly at the use of PDFs more broadly in healthcare.
- In the UK, the NHS specifies accessible PDFs, known as PDF/UA. UA stands for ‘Universal Accessibility’ and PDF/UA is an ISO-defined standard. This differs from PDF/H, which is a set of guidelines rather than an ISO standard.
- When NHS professionals use PDF/UA documents, they’re also advised to create web content equivalents.
Things the NHS may use PDF/UA files for include:
Digitising documents designed for printing.
If you have a document related to a public information campaign, for example a poster or a leaflet, you could use a PDF to digitise this and share with people via your GDPR-compliant email mailing lists.
Annual reports and similar documents.
If you compile reports on behalf of a health organisation as part of your role, your organisation may choose to use PDF tools to create them. Examples could include the annual report of a health trust.
One example of how the NHS has used accessible PDF/UA files is to digitise the documents on its website for the NHS Long Term Plan. Doctors, nurses, patients’ groups and subject-matter experts all fed into the plan. And you can download a PDF version of it direct from the site. The NHS follows Adobe guidance on ensuring these PDFs are accessible.
How to open a PDF-Healthcare file.
The easiest way to open and view a PDF on a Windows PC or a Mac is to download a free PDF reader such as Adobe Acrobat Reader.
On a Windows PC or laptop
- Find the PDF file you want to open
- Hover your cursor over the filename and right click
- Select Open With and then find Adobe Acrobat Reader
- The PDF should then open.
On a Mac
Your Mac will likely try to open your PDF with its default Preview application. This gives you limited access to the PDF, so you may want to update your settings to make Acrobat your default PDF reader. Then, simply:
- Go File > Get Info
- Choose Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the file
- Click Open.
How to create and edit a PDF-Healthcare file.
To edit a PDF, open Adobe Acrobat and then:
- Go File > Open
- Navigate to the right pane
- Click Edit PDF
- Browse the Acrobat Editing Tools
- Choose the tool you want (i.e., add new text or edit text)
- Make the edits
- Click Save As
You can also use Adobe’s free tool to edit PDFs online.
Learn more about similar file types to PDF-Healthcare.
Another PDF subset, PDF/An is focused on preserving archived documents.
PDF/E file types are focused on the engineering industry.
PDF/X sets specifications for the printing world.
Want to know more? Get the lowdown on the iconic file format with our timeline of the history of the PDF.