While healthcare service providers are finding ways to integrate healthcare consumerization, the digital solutions for this industry are getting advanced ceaselessly.
In the year 2022, it was valued at $153 billion and it’s expected to increase with a CAGR of 16% by the year 2027.
Mobile applications have transformed our world completely over the years. Likewise, with the fastest emerging medical sector, a mobile app is an important aspect for both patients and specialists. Today, a large population is using online media in different parts of their lives. New technologies, from medical devices to mobile applications, enable doctors to save patient’s life.
Most of the established companies in the healthcare center are investing in technologies to fulfill patient requirements and stand out from competitors. Thus, they should know the rules and regulations their mobile app needs to follow. Undoubtedly, HIPAA Compliant is among the most crucial needs to meet during health app development.
Let’s know more about HIPPA and explore the steps to make your app HIPPA-compliant to ensure it works more effectively.
HIPPA Act And Its Importance
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act or HIPPA is referred to as a set of rules declared in 1996, and then modified in 2013. The major law controlling your healthcare app’s security needs hasn’t transformed for more than 7 years.
The best part is you won’t need to go through 100 pages worth of legislation striving to outline technical parameters for additional security in healthcare apps.
The HIPAA Act includes:
- Security Rule
- Enforcement Rule
- Privacy Rule
- Breach Notification Rule
- Omnibus Rule
HIPPA assumes the main role of healthcare organizations and patients. The act defines what parties can exchange information, and how and to whom it can be disclosed.
Consequently, any company thinking about developing an app that has all the health data, whether it is a mobile or web solution, should know if it is required to be HIPAA compliant.
Its Importance For Patients
HIPAA offers the greatest benefits for patients. Most people have heard about it but there are still a few people who don’t know why it’s so important. There are four key parts of HIPAA that patients should know in order to understand the rights applied. They are:
- Security of medical information
- Report of data breaches
- The right to get copies of medical records
Its Importance For Healthcare Providers
HIPAA includes several rules to follow for medical organizations to make sure PHI protection boosts the administration of healthcare. Mainly, these rules secure data from theft. Based on this, PHI cannot be shared without patients’ consent, and in case, any breach happens, entities should inform patients.
Clearly, several custom healthcare software development projects must follow HIPAA compliance. Because in case of violations, there’s a possibility of penalties.
Use Scenarios of Health Apps & HIPPA
There are two aspects of HIPAA:
- Does HIPAA apply to any health data that are added and managed by patients in health apps?
- Is there any case when an application developer doesn’t require to abide by the HIPAA rules?
Here are a couple of scenarios that will assist you to get your questions addressed and modify your HIPAA mobile app development process.
A user downloads the application and updates her glucose data with the help of a personal glucometer.
HIPAA compliance: not needed no PHI is formed, received, managed, or transmitted in the best interests of a business associate.
A patient transfers his disease’s details from his clinic’s EHR as well as imports this information into an m-health app to handle it there.
Considering the doctor’s advice, a patient downloads and installs an app to properly manage her calorie intake and weight as well as transfer reports from the application to her doctor.
HIPAA compliance: not needed as no health information is transferred.
A patient receives an app to properly manage his chronic condition from the app store. After that, he installs the app in order to share his health-related data with this clinic’s EHR (the application doesn’t belong to a clinic but comprises an interoperability arrangement to safely share patient data with it.)
HIPAA compliance: not needed as the application does not manage PHI data on behalf of a business associate or covered entity.
A patient showed interest in downloading the remote patient monitoring app of the clinic from the app store. Every health data that the patients provide automatically syncs with the clinic’s EHR system.
HIPAA compliance: much required.
A patient receives her health plan app from the app store to deal with her claims as well as health plan records.
HIPAA compliance: much required.
As you can witness, the right way to know HIPAA compliance requirements is to check twice whether:
- your patients work with any kind of health app or just work only with your application
- your patients have complete control over transmitting their health data outside the app
Main Features of HIPAA-Compliant Applications
All healthcare software development project is different and needs a customized approach. But, in the case of developing HIPAA-compliant mobile apps, there are certain key features to include. They are:
- Authorization: Allow users to log in easily while staying focused on ensuring safety by applying a one-time password for authentication.
- Emergency access: According to several emergency cases from different network conditions to services disruption, there must be a way to predict and considered to offer continuous access to the app.
- Encryption: It’s a crucial aspect for application developers that pay respect to HIPPA compliance. It’s a key to keeping information secured from intruders. It enables shifting data over a network with zero risks and assures data integrity.
4 Key Steps to Make an App HIPAA-Compliant
The most important part is here!
Now it’s time to understand the basics of integrating HIPAA compliance in your healthcare app whether you’re developing a chatbot or an app for doctor’s appointments. Here’s how to make your app HIPPA-compliant:
1. Choose and implement HIPPA-as-a-service backend
Maybe you have heard about this, nowadays, apps are not available in a vacuum and there are always a few web apps they need to connect to. Obviously, healthcare apps are not an exception as well as cloud services they connect to have to be HIPAA-compliant too.
Luckily, there are a lot of choices to pick from. Every important cloud provider provides a backend that involves HIPAA compliance out of the box. A few trusted players that strike to mind are such as:
- Google Compute Engine
2. Keep PHI away from other app data
It’s suggested that you must keep your every patient’s health data in a different database while developing a HIPAA-compliant application. That way, you won’t need to consistently encrypt and decrypt each byte of the application, which may sometimes affect its performance by running it slowly.
3. Make sure to encrypt the data
We already mentioned that, but you must know that encryption has to be an important part of your health app. Data must be encrypted while at rest (either on smartphones or in the cloud) and during transit, as it moves between apps and servers.
All the available encryption techniques are based on cryptography, which is actually the science behind message security. Obviously, advanced methods are not only character conversion and are not used in personal communication. Now, it is needed to work with every type of data that is utilized in the business sphere.
With no proper encryption, the information secured on a HIPAA-compliant app can easily be accessible to hackers.
4. Perform audit and penetration tests
It’s a great practice to outsource testing to any professional company that can rightly audit your application developer’s work by performing every type of test.
Besides, you’ll have to establish procedures for consistent monitoring of HIPAA problems because your application will keep changing, and its security too. You’ll have to track PHI access, keep re-evaluating the security measures’ effectiveness, find out security issues, and evaluate risks involved in compromising e-PHI.
Related Article: Step-By-Step Guide on Mobile App HIPAA Compliance
Risks and Penalties
Another important piece of information to keep you from violating rules.
You need to understand that: where there is a violation of rules, there can be a penalty.
It’s hard to underrate HIPAA compliance software requirements as well as the significance of an app to strictly follow them, so it’s good to be ready and understand what to expect during noncompliance.
For instance, key violations of HIPAA rules involve data loss, evaluating confidential information, or providing PHI without authorization. The fines charged on entities differ from $100 to $50,000 per violation and can reach $1.5 million.
Reach HIPAA Compliance with the Huge Expertise
Apart from having a strong development tactic for your healthcare solutions, it’s important to make sure you meet the needs of mobile app HIPAA compliance. Mainly, focus on the measures taken for security to keep PHI safe and offer data integrity.
Do You Want to Make Your App HIPAA Compliant from iTechnolabs?
HIPAA regulations are challenging for software developers. It requires lots of effort to know and follow them. But, avoiding them may lead to certain risks as well as penalties. However, when you require custom software development services, find a professional team of developers who are aware of what HIPAA compliance means and can assist you to develop an application while considering these rules and your business goals.