If you are into healthcare business, then you might be well aware of the fact that any health app that is launched in US must be HIPAA compliant. HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) was enacted to collect and protect health information and medical records of individuals.
HIPAA aims to safeguard and validate the way of storing and sharing individually identifiable health information via mobile apps. So, if you are working on any healthcare project, you must first ensure that the mobile app is HIPAA compliant. The challenges in understanding HIPAA compliance are mainly due to its complexity. Before we dig deeper on how HIPAA works in conjunction with mobile apps, we need to consider different factors that form and define the compliance mechanism of HIPAA.
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Important terms and roles associated with HIPAA
- Protected Health Information (PHI)
- Personal Health Records (PHR)
- Covered Entities (CEs)
- Business Associates (BAs)
- Business Associate Agreement (BAA)
Does your mobile app need to be HIPAA compliant?
The need to make your app HIPAA compliant depends on type of information that your app collects. If your app collects general information that is basic in nature then your app doesn’t need to be HIPAA compliant. On contrary, if your app collects detailed info and has core medical significance, then it is more likely to be subjected to deeper scrutiny. Similarly, if your app is needed by medical practitioner or agency, it is more likely to fall into the periphery of the HIPAA compliance.
What are the challenges that can be faced if your health app is not HIPAA compliant when it should be?
When your app isn’t HIPAA compliant but it falls in the mandatory HIPAA compliance zone then, you and your company can be severely penalized and charged with severe civil and criminal fines as per the rules and regulations.
HIPAA compliance and your mobile app
Here’s how you should address the need for HIPAA compliance. When it comes to HIPAA compliance, the first thing you need to consider is the storage. When data is entered by the user and if it is stored in the device’s memory then, you must ensure that the data is fully encrypted. When at rest, the information should be stored in the encrypted form, otherwise you would be breaching security as a health service provider and your app would be considered out of HIPAA compliance standards.
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When the data is being transmitted to the server from a device, you should mandatorily use Transport Layer Security (TLS). You should also pin the security certificate if there is a possibility of devices being used on untrusted or compromised networks.
To make your app HIPAA compliant, you should understand the core purpose and the audience to be served properly. You should also be aware of the kind of information your app deals with and to what degree and route it will be passed through or processed.
If you are looking to make your app HIPAA compliant, it is always better to consult a provider who has experience in it and has successful past records. Privacy and security of medical data that your app collects are the most important things to take care of in HIPAA.