In the time we live in now, there is a simple rule that guides everything: data is gold. When we look at an industry that deals with users’ data, whether it’s sensitive or not, we can be sure that some rules are in place to make the industry safer.
In this mobile-first era, even the healthcare industry needs to follow strict rules, so users’ data doesn’t get poorly used. Even though the rules vary from country to country, the HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, is the one everyone must follow. Let’s look at the process of making a HIPAA-act Compliant Mobile Application, which ensures that your app meets the compliance requirements.
Describe the HIPAA Act
The HIPAA Act ensures that handling and storing patient data, especially on a software platform, is done perfectly. It also includes sharing information about how patients are billed and what their health insurance covers.
In 1996, the idea of making HIPAA-compliant mobile apps was first thought of as a way to protect patients’ information, lower the cost of health care, and help people who lost their jobs or switched jobs keeps their health insurance coverage. But the part of the act that developers like us and app entrepreneurs like you would be interested in is the requirement that the app protects users from data fraud.
The first step in understanding and implementing HIPAA regulations is to know what kinds of data the software used in healthcare interacts with.
PHI is “Protected Health Information” and includes doctor bills, MRI scans, test results, emails, and other medical information. Also, a person’s exact location within a territory is considered PHI.
CHI is short for “consumer health information.” You can get some of this information from a fitness tracker, like the number of calories burned, your heart rate, and the number of steps you take.
There is still a lot of confusion about why HIPAA rules are essential when trying to understand HIPAA act Compliant Mobile Applications. Let’s answer these questions.
Why Is It Important to Follow HIPAA?
The HIPAA regulation is a general law to help medical facilities and patients. So, both sides need to know why it is important when making HIPAA-compliant software.
1. For the People:
No one can give out any information about a patient without their permission – Under HIPAA rules, only healthcare professionals can share information about their patients with other parties. Also, the PHI should only include the people involved in the healthcare operations. This makes sure that the data is kept secret and private.
Billing staff and pharmacies can’t send patients’ information to other places. As was said above, other parties are not allowed to send information about patients to other parties.
People should be told when there’s a breach – The patients have complete control over the information about their health care. This makes it easy for multiple healthcare institutions to share data.
2. For Hospitals:
How important it is to use a mobile app For hospitals to follow HIPAA rules, they need to know what would happen if they didn’t. If hospitals don’t do what they’re supposed to, they must pay huge fines. A fine for a single data breach can be anywhere from $100 to $50,000.
There are many real-life examples of how expensive it can be for hospitals to not follow HIPAA rules, both in terms of money and reputation. For instance, in 2015, a Massachusetts hospital had to pay a $218,000 fine because its file-sharing program didn’t meet HIPAA security requirements. This put the information of more than 500 patients at risk.
How to Make Mobile Apps That Follow HIPAA?
Healthcare app developers sometimes find it hard to make HIPAA act Compliant Mobile Applications, mainly because they have to change many things about the apps’ features and how they look.
Because we’ve built more than 70 mHealth solutions, we’ve been able to make a HIPAA compliance checklist for software development. Here’s a sneak peek:
To make a phone app that complies with HIPAA, you have to follow four primary rules:
As an app entrepreneur, you must look into all four rules. However, the HIPAA privacy and security rules are the ones that most healthcare app development companies like us work around when answering the question of how to make software HIPAA compliant. Most of them are physical and technical protections.
1. Guards against harm
It protects the back end, the network for transferring data, and devices that run on Android ensuring that they can’t be lost, stolen, or hacked. To protect the security of apps, you need to require authentication and make it impossible to use apps without authentication. This can be done with a multi-factor authentication system.
2. Safeguards for technology
They focus on ensuring that all data sent or stored on servers and devices is entirely encrypted. Some examples of technical safeguards are:
- How to get in an emergency
- Unique user identification
- Logoff by itself
In this case, it’s also a good idea to follow the “minimum necessary” rule: don’t collect more data than you need, and don’t keep it longer than you need for work. Also, don’t send PHI data through push notifications or let it get out through logs and backups.
How to Make Apps That Are HIPAA Compliant
Here are the main steps for making HIPAA act Compliant Mobile Applications:
Ask the pros for help: The process of making a HIPAA act Compliant Mobile Application is complicated. So, if you don’t have enough experience, don’t try to meet all of the HIPAA rules on your own. It’s better to contact a well-known software development company that complies with HIPAA. Getting help with Compliant Application Development from app developers with experience in healthcare will make the job easier and help you prepare better. Both small and large health care companies can benefit from hiring an expert.
Evaluating patient data is essential because any healthcare facility can access private patient information. A mobile app can store, share, and keep track of this information. You need to think about and figure out what falls under PHI. After that, look at what PHI data you don’t need to store or send through your mobile app.
Find third-party solutions that are in line with HIPAA: It costs a lot of money to make an app HIPAA-compliant. Instead of making HIPAA-compliant mobile apps from scratch, it’s best to use infrastructure and solutions that are already HIPAA-compliant. IaaS stands for “Infrastructure as a service.” For example, Amazon Web Services and TrueVault follow HIPAA and are in charge of keeping data safe.
You’ll need to sign an agreement to ensure they’re trustworthy if you store and manage PHI data through a third-party solution provider.
Use the best security to keep your patient’s sensitive information safe. Use more than one encryption level and ensure security isn’t broken.
Maintain and test the security of your app. It is very important to test your app. After every update, do it. It can be fixed immediately if anything goes wrong with your app.
You have to do maintenance all the time if you want to keep your app safe and secure. After you make a HIPAA-compliant app, you’ll need to keep it up-to-date, or a security breach could happen.
General Characteristics of an Application That Meets HIPAA
Like other app categories, no two healthcare apps are the same. Our Health application development guide also discusses certain commonalities between HIPAA act Compliant Mobile Application
User Identification: The best way to verify a user’s identity is to ask for a PIN or password. You can also make the feature better by using smart cards and biometric identification.
Access in an emergency: If there is a natural disaster, the network and essential services may be interrupted. Even though it is not a direct rule that you have to plan for these things, it would be a good idea to have a provision that covers these things.
Encryption: The information that is being stored or sent needs to be encrypted. When you use services like that use Transport Layer Security 1.2, end-to-end encryption is set up for you automatically. Even though TLS might be enough, adding AES encryption might be a good idea to make it even stronger.
Do you want to Develop a HIPAA act Compliant Mobile Application?
Due to the widespread impact of the coronavirus on healthcare, we are on the cusp of entering an era in which the digital transformation of healthcare will be the standard. It suggests that in the years to come, people will pay a great deal more attention to guaranteeing that they adhere to the guidelines. The digital transformations in the healthcare industry that understand the specifics of compliances and incorporate those specifics into their medical software straight away will be the most successful of them all.