Apps are enhancing and expanding the character of a user’s life at all times. As the number of mHealth apps grows, so does the number of HIPAA compliant app development providers. This is a huge opportunity for the healthcare sector to grab an mobile app with the help of healthcare app development company.
HIPAA will be on your mind if you want to design a healthcare app that interacts with electronically protected health information (ePHI), such as a hospital or an healthcare industry.
While HIPAA is primarily concerned with medical devices, it also includes provisions for other enterprises, such as online pharmacies. Despite the fact that medical device privacy restrictions are not available in HIPAA legislation, developers should not neglect their importance.
App developers’ checklist for HIPAA compliant mHealth apps
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act is notable in that it contains no list of best practices or suggestions for employing, for example, specific techniques of encrypting patient health data. HIPAA for healthcare app developers, on the other hand, has a lot of ramifications.
As I have stated, there is no change in the law since 2013. How do you believe it has managed to remain so popular for so long? That’s correct, I’m trying to be as broad as possible.
That’s all HIPAA has to say about it. Does it simplify your life by demonstrating how to create a HIPAA compliant mobile app? “What do we consider an emergency?” “What emergency access procedures should we set up?”
“Do I need to allow some kind of backdoor to the healthcare app for authorized personnel?” “How is this different from authorized users accessing patient information during non-emergencies?” I’m sure it raises a lot of questions.
Let me summarize the most action-packed HIPAA directions that you should implement during the health app development process to provide you with some practical advice:
Minimize the amount of data
Make sure you’re only collecting data that will improve the performance of your app and make it more useful to your patients. We also advise against caching PHI and retaining users’ geolocation information (other than state-level).
Secure connection and protocols are used to transfer PHI
Apart from encrypting patient data, you must also transfer it through a secure HTTPS connection with SSL/TLS to make it resistant to breaches. Simply make sure your app developers are employing these technologies while developing HIPAA compliant software.
Include an audit mechanism in the process
You should be able to see who’s using the app and what actions they’re performing. In essence, audit controls like these necessitate unique user identity.
PHI must be removed from notifications and emails
It’s important to remember that hackers can readily hack PHI when sent via push notifications and emails on mobile devices. Text communications, as well as almost other non-app messaging, are in the same boat.
Ensure the accuracy of your information
Unauthorized modifications to PHI should be impossible. When it comes to maintaining the integrity of patient data, blockchain technology is truly invaluable. Consider transferring EHR (electronic health records) to a blockchain to create HIPAA compliant, hack-resistant software.
What do HIPAA compliance requirements entail?
HIPAA compliant software comprises following HIPAA’s requirements, as well as any related rules, amendments, or regulations. In general, HIPAA is both stringent (with a slew of rules and harsh punishments) and ambiguous (with liberty on how best to apply the rules).
HIPAA establishes five fundamental guidelines that must be followed by all healthcare software development applications:
1. The HIPAA privacy rule
The Creation of Privacy Rule was due to protect the use and disclosure of medical records and other protected health information (PHI). The intension of the rule is to make the transfer of health data more efficient while also reducing fraud and theft.
Patients also have specific rights to their health information and medical records under the rule, including the ability to examine, receive a copy, and request adjustments to their data.
2. The HIPAA security rule
The Security Rule establishes guidelines for protecting ePHI that is available to create, receive, use, or maintain a covered entity. Covered entities must implement “necessary administrative, physical, and technical protections to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and security” of ePHI, according to the Security Rule.
Although HIPAA may not usually specify minimal or exact standards, the NIST guide on HIPAA implementation is frequently cited.
3. The HIPAA enforcement rule
The Enforcement Rule lays out how the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would enforce HIPAA, with regulators determining culpability and imposing fines for noncompliance.
A complaint or a data breach normally triggers an investigation, but the Department of Health and Human Services has the ability to investigate for no cause.
4. The breach notification rule
The Breach Notification Rule requires HIPAA covered entities and their business partners to notify HIPAA covered entities and their business associates of any unsecured PHI breach, including both paper-based and electronic PHI.
The nature and extent of the PHI implicated, the type of disclosure, whether the data was accessed, and the level of risk of exposure are all factors that HHS considers when determining what constitutes a breach.
Breach notifications that affect more than 500 people must include a media announcement, in addition to other procedures.
5. The omnibus rule
HIPAA’s most recent amendment, the Omnibus Rule, was amended in 2013 and alters various HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Enforcement Rules.
The Omnibus Rule is stricter, making it more difficult to dodge breach notification, expanding non-compliance liabilities to business affiliates, and imposing new privacy limits for PHI use.
Further Reading : The Best Technology Stack For Enterprise-level Application Development
How to create a HIPAA compliant mobile application
HIPAA protects health information by requiring healthcare apps to meet certain minimal data security requirements throughout creation.
These recommendations should be followed by any healthcare mobile app development company that has to bring the app into production. This regulated activity preserves the confidentiality of a patient’s vital health information.
Following a data breach, every user’s data poses a health and safety risk. HIPAA requires businesses to adhere to the following rules:
Make sure your app/website has an emergency call-to-action that allows users to reach out to you in an emergency, even if they don’t have access to their regular phone.
Make sure that any user-generated content you post on your website is automatically uploaded to your app. The user does not need to understand or interact with the content in order for it to be included.
Make sure your app can upload and download data without jeopardizing the security or integrity of your data. It’s also a good idea to make sure that your app exclusively uses HTTPS to connect with the server and to access secure HTTP resources.
Access to concealed media is impossible without express user consent. Hide any content – photos, video, or audio – is explicitly linked to full user consent and can be considered an EOI.
The first and most serious HIPAA risk is migrating the existing website platform in-house. Its danger increases dramatically if a healthcare practitioner uses a website platform established by a third-party vendor, such as Manta, Joomla, or WordPress, which the healthcare practitioner continues to use.
Consider the possibility that your doctor is already using or developing applications. In that scenario, consider your alternatives for designing an app and do an in-person interview with the healthcare provider to learn more about how it could benefit them.
You may have access to this type of data as part of your HIPAA compliance procedure, depending on the platform the healthcare practitioner is currently using.
3. Identify app packages and maximum insertions
The first stage is to figure out what an app’s basic functionality is, or how much data the programmer will provide. People can assess this based on the app’s function, such as if it’s a key contact lab or a corporate therapeutic solution.
A thorough examination of the app’s sheer size indicates the possibility of data security vulnerabilities. Outsourcing or outsourcing health app developers ensure that all technical standards are fine during the development process.
Otherwise, that can stretch the app’s life cycle. Furthermore, there must be no unnecessary bulk data; some contemporary apps may have 5 times or more than the required data.
4. Evidentiary considerations
A HIPAA app’s main goal is to help you run a more efficient healthcare routine. As a result, all of the app’s operations must be based on the principle of safety.
Before using the app, the developer must collect the data. The underpinning software should have the ability to encapsulate data feeds from online sources.
On receiving the data from third-party data sources, one must not store in a form that leaves gaps in time, such as a week.
Finally, encryption must be prioritized because HIPAA does not mandate the use of encryption technologies in apps. It means that people must keep the encryption technology safe, secure, and accessible from a central location.
5. Evaluate the root CA
Finally, it’s vital to review the development team’s infrastructure in order to retain this critical security measure. For example, there could be a hidden connection to the app’s owner, or a single person could set up a rogue server to keep important information.
It might be prudent to discuss this idea with the development team. Implementing business security solutions that help anticipate and prevent unauthorized access to data hosted on AWS can help reduce the likelihood of unauthorized third parties developing a rogue CA infrastructure for storing healthcare data.
6. Data storage
One of the most important phases is sensitive data which the developer store within the app. Blocked ports, wireless setups, or handwritten app contents will not protect sensitive data from unauthorized access. The developer must store sensitive data in a secure, centralized location with a failover option.
Further Reading : 7 Reasons Why You Need a Mobile App for Your Business
1. What is HIPAA’s protected health information (PHI)?
PHI refers to any patient data or information about a patient that one can use to identify them, such as their name, address, date of birth, SSN, device identifiers, email addresses, biometrics, lab or imaging findings, medical history, and payment information. ePHI is generally health data that is saved electronically.
2. Under HIPAA, who are business associates?
A business associate is any person or organization that performs tasks for a covered entity that involves the use (keeping or transmission) of PHI.
We are rapidly approaching an era where digital healthcare transformation will be the new standard, owing to the influence of the coronavirus pandemic on the healthcare sector. It suggests that in the future, there will be a major shift in emphasis toward compliance adherence.
The healthcare digital transformationists who master the complexities of compliance and incorporate them into their medical software today will be the most successful.
Markovate‘s experienced team of Designers and Developers can consult, create, and construct your next transformative concept if you’re searching for a technical partner to help you bootstrap your healthcare company or internal product.
Rajeev Sharma is the Co-Founder and CEO at Markovate, a digital product development company based out of Toronto. With more than 12 years of experience in digital product development, he has led major digital transformations and product development at AT&T and IBM.
Rajeev’s core expertise includes mobile and web development, product growth, and UX design. He holds a degree in Computer Science & Scrum Alliance certifications. Apart from his projects, he is deeply involved in Metaverse and closely follows the latest trends.