Keeping a user’s medical data secure is one of the most crucial duties of the healthcare sector. Today, thousands of healthcare apps are present globally that offer outstanding services. But everything comes with pros and cons; on one end, where these apps provide exceptional services to both patients and doctors, the other end, they lack somewhere in protecting and maintaining the privacy of patient’s medical records and personal information.
In quest of resolving this, there is an act released back in the year 1996 known as HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability) Act; when a health app is HIPAA compliant, the risk of data theft or leakage decreases exponentially.
To prevent user’s data from theft or fraudulent, Healthcare app development companies are now switched to HIPAA Compliant Apps. If you are an entrepreneur and looking for how to make a HIPAA compliant App, you are at the right blog.
Before digging into deep, let’s first take a glance at-
What is the HIPAA Act?
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, also known as HIPAA, is a federal law established by the 104th United States Congress Government in 1996 to protect the patient’s sensitive health information from being disclosed without the patient’s knowledge of consent.
In the app development portion, the HIPAA Act ensures that the app protects users against data fraud. But implementing HIPAA is not easy as it looks, first you have to understand its requirements and terms in-depth-
Protected health information (PHI)
PHI is information that can quickly identify the patient. It comes in two sections, including health information and personal data. The latter includes all the essential data about the patient like name, mobile number, email id, fax number, medical record number, address, account number, biometric identifiers cover fingerprints and voice, etc.
CHI (consumer health information)
This information consists of data that you can gather from a fitness tracker like the number of calories burnt, heart rate readings, footsteps count, etc.
Why is HIPAA Compliance important in healthcare?
HIPAA Act is majorly introduced for protecting both patients and health institutions from data theft and fraud. Let’s see how it helps both when developing a HIPAA compliant app.
- Under the HIPAA Compliance act, no health institutions or other entities can use and forward any patient’s personal information without their consent. Only healthcare professionals are allowed to share the patient’s health information with vital stakeholders. It ensures high confidentiality and healthy privacy levels.
- Patients have the full right over their medical records; if any breach of information occurs, entities notify patients.
- Pharmaceutical vendors and billing professionals are not allowed to forward the patient’s information to other stakeholders.
- HIPAA Compliant improves patient care and interactions.
- It helps individuals in the industry maintain reasonably positive reputations among peers and patients
- Compliance is essential to ensure HIPAA-covered entities follow the law and avoid penalties.
What would happen if health entities are not following the HIPAA Compliance?
In non-following HIPAA compliance, hospitals and other authoritative entities are held liable to pay huge fines. A patient’s sensitive data breach case can cause them a massive amount of $100 per violation to $1,500,000 in penalty.
Several examples define how costly it would go for hospitals and entities when they violate HIPAA compliance. It not only affects their financial grounds but also has a significant impact on their brand image. For instance, in March 2020, the Lifespan Health System had to pay a fine of USD 1,04,000 for putting the data of more than 20,000 patients at risk simply because someone stole their employee work laptop, which is not password-protected.
What are the HIPAA Compliance Rules?
- HIPAA Privacy Rule
- HIPAA Enforcement Rule
- HIPAA Security Rule
- Breach Notification Rule
HIPAA Privacy Rule
The HIPAA Privacy Rule focuses on PHI security. This rule emphasizes that the patient’s medical records, including clinical history, payments, visits, diagnosis, prescriptions, and other crucial information must be secure with the latest tools and technologies. It should not be accessible to any other third party under any circumstances.
This rule also describes certain conditions under which a patient’s data can be used without authorization. Moreover, it allows patients to review their medical records and demand copies. Patients can also ask for changes if they find any irrelevant or missed information in their documents.
HIPAA Enforcement Rule
HIPAA Enforcement Rule includes the penalties and necessary provisions in the occurrence of the data breach. The penalty amounts entirely rely on the number of disclosures of medical records. In the recent data breaches cases of 2020, the penalty amount is expected to reach $4 billion, which is more massive than before.
HIPAA Security Rule
The HIPAA Security Rule works to keep the patient’s data highly confidential. It states that it is compulsory for all the healthcare institutions, entities, and others that come under the PHI to monitor, run, and track regular data breach risk analysis. The rule comes with specific security risk analysis guidelines and describes the recommendations and limitations to ensure reliable PHI protection.
Breach Notification Rule
The breach notification rule acts as a mediator or bridge among the individuals and institutions authorized for that particular data. The law states that if there are less than 500 data breach cases, the healthcare organization (who held that information) needs to inform all the individuals within one month of the breach identification.
And if there are more than 500 cases, it involves the media and other responsible authorities and the Government. The healthcare institutions need to involve the “Department of Health and Human Services” office within one month. And they can file a complaint report over the official website of OCR Breach reporting.
How to make a HIPAA Compliant App?
If you plan to develop a HIPAA compliant App for Android and iOS, you would have to follow all the rules mentioned above. As the HIPAA Compliant software entirely depends on technical and physical safeguards.
If we talk about what are technical safeguards? Then these safeguards work entirely on the data encryption part. The data that can be transferred or stored on various servers and devices have come under these monitoring processes. The following practices help in securing the data-
- Unique user identification
- Automatic logoff
- Emergency access process
Physical safeguards work for the other essential part, including backend security, network security, data transfer, and device security, including Android and iOS. To ensure the application’s safety, a device authentication system must be implemented.
Must-have features in HIPAA Compliant Apps
- Make Appointments
- Get Notifications
- Chat and Messaging
- Secure Data sharing
- Store Patient’s Details
- Send important notifications
- Access control
- Automatic logoff
- Transmission security
- PHI disposal
- Data backup and storage
- Audit controls
- Person or entity authentication
Bring value to your users by offering them the best HIPAA Compliant Apps. In the year 2020, we have seen a lot of impact on the healthcare sector, and it is high time to shift focus from conventional practices to the digital one. The health institutions that understand the value of compliance and implement them in their medical software today will surely see success in the upcoming time. So, what are you thinking of? Develop a HIPAA Compliant App today with us and serves the best in the healthcare industry.