The healthcare industry is highly vulnerable to cyber attacks, phishing & data misuse. The increasing incidents of hacking & botched health record disposals are a serious concern that needed high attention.
According to Becker’s Hospital Review, Data breaches cost the health care industry approximately $5.6 billion every year.
The American Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 is a group of regulations that medical/healthcare providers must follow to ensure that all patients’ charts, accounts and records are handled properly with utmost security & privacy.
According to the Act, any healthcare app that records and sends protected health information to a doctor, hospital, or other healthcare entity must be HIPAA-compliant. In failure to do, you will be subjected to potential penalties for violating the health information privacy act.
If you are a healthcare service provider – a doctor, practitioner, an independent clinic, a hospital facility, or an insurance company or for that matter a business developing a healthcare app or any other technology platform, then you must adhere to these regulations.
This article discusses the necessity of HIPAA compliance in mobile healthcare app development and what it requires to build a highly scalable & efficient HIPAA compliant app for your healthcare entity.
Who is Required to be HIPAA Compliant?
If your healthcare app processes, stores, maintains or shares any protected health information about the patient (PHI data), it has to be HIPAA compliant.
Taking a deeper look into the PHI data (protected health information), it comprises every aspect of patient information. PHI includes bills from doctors, emails, MRI scans, blood test results, and any other medical information about the patient.
If you are looking to build a HIPAA compliant app, it should adhere to the PHI guidelines. Now who all comes under this? Here’s the full list:
1. Covered Entities– organizations and individuals offering healthcare services/operations, or accepting payments for them. They include all healthcare providers (e.g. hospitals, doctors, dentists, psychologists), health plans (e.g. insurance providers, HMOs, government programs like Medicare and Medicaid) and clearinghouses (the organizations that act as middlemen between the healthcare providers and insurance companies).
2. Business Associates – the third parties handling PHI on behalf of covered entities. This category includes the developers of health care apps, hosting/data storage providers, email services, etc.
HIPAA Compliant Apps- How to Build A One?
Developing a HIPAA compliant app is a daunting task, as it follows a totally different development procedure. If you are wondering about certain things like-
What does the HIPAA app look like? What are the conditions developers need to consider while developing HIPAA mobile apps? What is the procedure of developing an efficient HIPAA compliant medical/healthcare app? Continue reading to get an answer…
Essential Conditions to Consider While Developing a HIPAA Complaint App
Basically, HIPAA Compliant App is based on two main safeguards – Technical and Physical.
Technical– HIPAA compliant apps must provide complete data security while transferring, sharing or storing any medical information. Such healthcare mobile apps must have proper authentication for access so that the medical data is not compromised or misplaced.
Physical– Data encryption is the main priority here. You must consider the physical safeguard of your app. Your HIPAA compliant app should be designed in a way such that it automates emergency access, provides a unique identification number to every patient, and allows instant login and log out options.
Features of HIPAA Compliant App (PATIENTS & DOCTORS)
Your developed HIPAA compliant mobile app should allow easy authentication of the user, access essential information at the time of emergency, use encryption for safer data transfer, and storage. Below, we have listed a few essential features in a HIPAA compliant app for both the patients and the healthcare institutions. Your app must incorporate all these features so as to offer a seamless experience to both patients & doctors.
Features of HIPAA Compliant App for Patients
- Communicate through Chat and Messaging
This feature allows easy & seamless communication among patients, doctors and nurses! Patients may use this feature to get certain medical advice instantly or alert the staff for any medical emergency. The feature is essential when a patient is not in a condition to visit the hospital or is remotely located.
- Book Appointments Instantly
Booking appointments are made easy with mHealth apps. Eventually, one can make follow ups with their doctors. This feature displays the doctor’s calendar with available time slots. Patients can use this data to book a time slot as per their convenience.
- Reminder Updates
Your HIPAA app must have an in-built ‘reminder update’ feature. This ensures a timely reminder of the upcoming appointments or hospital visits of a patient. The feature may also be used as a communicating method where patients would be notified in case, due to non-availability of doctors, the appointment got cancelled or rescheduled.
Features of HIPAA Compliant App for Doctors/Healthcare Facilities
- Secure Data Sharing
With a HIPAA compliant app, one can seamlessly communicate with the patients. The app offers a safe messaging platform offering an easy-to-access upcoming appointment details for doctors & hospital entities.
- Store Patient Information/Support All Types of Media
With digitalization affecting almost every sector, Healthcare is no more an exception. Manually arranging patient’s data is a talk of the past. Today, healthcare facilities have a digital medium to effectively records, process & transfer patients’ data. In pursuit of the same, your HIPAA compliant mobile app must support proper graphics, charts, PDF files, reports, images, and videos on a single screen.
- Send & Receive Notifications
Your mHealth app must support timely notification on all devices. Easy reminders and upcoming appointments is an integral feature for any healthcare app as it would save much time and allow doctors to treat more & more patients.
Developing A HIPAA Compliant Medical App- Process Explained
If you are looking to develop a HIPAA compliant medical app for your healthcare entity, follow the process as explained below:
Step 1: Find a Development Partner
The first step requires you to find a developing partner that matches you needs, budget and requirements. Check if the company has sound experience in building healthcare/medical apps adhere to the HIPAA guidelines.
We highly recommend you to hire a third-party to mHealth app development expert to consult and audit your system. You can also outsource the complete HIPAA compliant app development process to an experienced team of healthcare app developers. Generally, a full-fledge team can be hired on flexible engagement models and on your country’s time zones.
Step 2: Evaluate & Categorize Patient Data as PHI
After you got an experienced Healthcare app development company, schedule a thorough discussion about your project. Put in the data you collect from patients and decide what data is essential as per the project and can be categorized as PHI. Eventually decide which data can be avoided storing or transferring through your mobile app.
Step 3: Decide if you want to create a custom HIPAA app from scratch or a Ready-made Solution
This is a crucial step and requires you to decide between choosing a custom made HIPAA app or a readymade HIPAA solution. Please note that providing HIPAA compliance for an application is very expensive. While you would spend too much on a custom HIPAA app from scratch, opting for an infrastructure as a service i.e. the solutions that are already HIPAA compliant incur you less time, effort and money.
For instance: Amazon Web Services and TrueVault are compliant with HIPAA and are responsible for data security.
Step 4: Encrypt all stored and transferred health data
Make sure your healthcare development partner uses the best security practices to encrypt the sensitive data of your patients. Make sure there are no security breaches and use several levels of encryption. For proper data encryption, follow the encryption process on the dispatcher’s side and then on the receiver’s side.
Step 5: Ensure Utmost Safety with Updated Technologies & Tools
You must ensure that your HIPAA compliant apps are built utilizing technologies and tools that store, transmit, alter, or accumulate information with utmost safety.
A HIPAA compliant app must seamlessly identity unauthorized logins, unknown access, and any other suspicious activity done on the app. Deploy your HIPAA compliant apps that are timely upgraded and altered to match the need of the user. Ensure updating the app with better security and protection.
Step 6: Maintain, update and test your app for security
Testing is an essential tool before you put your app to App store/Play store. Test your mhealth app both statically and dynamically after every update. Check that the documentation is up to date. Make sure to regularly maintain you app so it does not beach any security concern.
Build Custom HIPAA Compliant Applications by Top Healthcare Experts
Develop highly scalable and efficient digital solution for your healthcare facility from one of the prominent healthcare app development companies with a decade of experience!
QSS Technosoft has been delivering growth- oriented mHealth solutions for a wide array of healthcare clients across the globe. The company is backed by a team of 150+ professionals with a vast technological expertise. We provide our clients with well strategized and HIPAA compliant app development. Our clients love us for our in-depth consulting, project prototype facility, final design and development solutions for a wide range of healthcare apps. Hiring us would definitely bring you extraordinary results for your business.
Till now, we have successfully delivered cost-effective, HIPAA compliant healthcare mobile apps that guarantee higher efficiency & growth. Contact us if you are looking to build digital solutions like Patient Appointment Planner, Patient Care Management, Remote Health Monitoring, Electronic Medical Health Records (EMR, EHR) etc. Our HIPAA compliant app developers are available to be hired in next 48 hours on budget price.
Explore our Healthcare IT portfolio from our website or contact us to get a quick consultation about your project on a phone call!
Rashmi Kanti is a passionate content writer & a blogger having written numerous blogs for IT domain. Being into the Blogging world for the past 4 years, she is presently contributing technology loaded articles & blogs regularly to QSS Technosoft. Rashmi has a proficient knowledge of the latest market trends in the mobile & web applications and expresses herself a big technology geek.