In a world serious about data privacy, a healthcare app startup cannot think of launching an app that’s not compliant with HIPAA. The Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a blanket law that outlines the guidelines associated with sensitive patient information and data protection. Every company that asks for protected health information (PHI) must follow HIPAA guidelines to avoid heavy fines and lawsuits.
HIPPA requires stakeholders, entities and business associates that provide treatment, facilitate payments or op12`erate in the healthcare domain to follow HIPAA guidelines to ensure compliance. In fact, anyone who has access to sensitive patient information must be HIPAA compliant. But what does HIPAA compliance mean?
The United States Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) has set up HIPAA Privacy Rules that requires healthcare stakeholders to protect certain information related to patient health. Also, the Security Rules along with privacy rules defines guidelines to protect information that is transmitted or stored in electronic format. To be HIPAA compliant one needs to follow the standards mentioned under privacy and security rules.
Complying with HIPAA norms is quite important for any startup, app or software company dealing with sensitive health information. As Electronic Health Records come under the purview of HIPAA compliance, one needs to take diligent measures in complying with the HIPAA rules owing to the security and data privacy risks.
Failing to meet HIPAA guidelines can attract a maximum penalty of $50,000 on every violation with a cap of $1.5 million yearly. This means every app or software dealing with sensitive healthcare information should be HIPAA compliant.
HIPAA outlines four major rules for patient data protection, in general. These include:
For an app developer’s perspective, the security rule is of maximum importance as it outlines several physical and technical safeguards one needs to implement for HIPAA compliance.
The physical safeguards deal with protecting backend networks, data networks and devices that can be physically hacked or compromised. Physical safeguard outlines the people who have access to the PHI data and management of access. Basically, physical safeguards deal with the following:
This includes setting up plans to deal with security issues, contingencies, maintenance and access control procedures. The basic steps include:
Technical safeguards define the ideal workflow that an app must follow while dealing with PHI. Here are some of the aspects you should implement for meeting technical safeguards:
Mobile devices are easier to penetrate making it hard for mobile app developers to develop a HIPAA compliant app. Here is a HIPAA compliance checklist that can help you in meeting HIPAA compliance requirements while building a healthcare mobile app.
User authentication is one of the first steps that can help you in achieving mobile app HIPAA compliance. While developers state that mobile apps are password protected, still you must include an additional security and protection layer in your mobile app through a user authentication system. Your app should ask a user to authenticate his identity through credentials like an ID and password.
Encryption is one of the most important parameters to achieve HIPAA compliance. If your app is asking for sensitive user data, you should embed a system to automatically encrypt all the data whether it is stored locally or transmitted to a central server.
Not all users understand the implications of not logging out of an app. This can sometimes lead to data compromise as local data can be accessed by anyone via the device. Your app should have a feature to automatically log out a user after a certain period of inactivity in the app.
Remote wipe allows administrators to access and erase PHI data to eliminate the chances of misuse by anyone. This ensures that the data is protected at all points without the need for compromising with the user’s personal information.
Keeping a mobile device protected from virus or suspicious attacks is hard in a world where users stay connected to unsecured networks. By releasing regular app updates, you can deal with security fixes and bugs that promote data security.
Activity logs keep a record of activity on a network. With an activity log feature, the process of auditing user activity such as login attempts, changes made to data, files accessed, etc. can easily be performed. This improves the data integrity and helps your mobile app stay HIPAA compliant.
Your app should be able to security transmit vital health information to a central server by encrypting the data. The app should be able to automatically sync data between local device and central servers to ensure that a user doesn’t have to always stay connected to a network for accessing data.
Designing a healthcare mobile app that complies with HIPAA guidelines is quite essential in the modern world. Non-compliance to HIPAA can lead to multimillion-dollar lawsuits that your startup might not be equipped to handle. It is always better to hire expert mobile app developers and consultants who understand the nuances associated with HIPAA and can guide you comprehensively for achieving mobile app HIPAA compliance. At Intuz, we are equipped with the expertise and experience to build HIPAA compliant healthcare apps. Get in touch to consult our HIPAA app development experts.
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