If you have ever interacted with the healthcare industry, there are high chances that you must have heard of HIPAA compliant apps. You must have also heard how it is a prerequisite for the healthcare mobile app development.

The era that we are presently living in operates under one simple formula – data is gold. When we look into any industry that deals with users’ data (sensitive or not) we are also bound to see some compliances in place aiming to make the industry more safeguarded. 

Healthcare sector too, is not untouched by the need for strict compliances to save users’ data from getting misused in this mobile-first era. 

What is the HIPAA act?

The HIPAA Act ensures there are zero anomalies when handling and storing patient data, especially on a software platform. It also includes sharing of information related to billing and healthcare insurance coverage for the medical patients. 

The idea of developing mobile app HIPAA compliance was launched in 1996 for regulating protection of the patients’ data, lowering the healthcare cost, and providing health insurance coverage for people who lost or changed their jobs. However, the portion of the act that we are interested in as developers and you would be as app entrepreneurs is the requirement for ensuring that the app protects users against data fraud.

How to Make HIPAA Compliant Mobile Apps

Developing HIPAA compliant healthcare apps can at times pose a challenge for the healthcare app developers especially because it asks for a number of modifications on both features and design front. 

Our experience of having developed more than 70+ mHealth solutions, have aided us with the creation of a HIPAA compliance checklist for software development. Here’s a peek into it –

Making of a HIPAA compliant phone app calls for following four primary rules:

  • Privacy
  • Security
  • Enforcement 
  • Breach 

While as an app entrepreneur, you would have to look into all the four rules, the one that healthcare app development company like us primarily work around when answering how to make software HIPAA compliant are the HIPAA privacy and security rules. They majorly consist of physical and technical safeguards. 

Physical safeguards

It includes protection of the backend, network for data transfer, and devices that are on Android or iOS – ensuring that they cannot be compromised, lost, or stolen. To ensure applications’ security, you must enforce authentication while making it impossible to access apps without authentication – something that can be achieved through a multi-factor authentication system. 

Technical safeguards

They focus on completely encrypting the data which can be transferred or stored on servers and devices. Some of the technical safeguard practices include:

  • Emergency access process
  • Unique user identification 
  • Automatic logoff

Another best practice in this regard can be following the minimum necessity requirements: Do not collect more data than you would need nor store data for longer than actually needed for work. Additionally, avoid transmission of PHI data in push notifications or leak the information in logs and backups.  

Steps to Create HIPAA Compliant Apps

Here are the main steps to create HIPAA Compliant apps for mobile:

  1. Get help from experts: The whole process of HIPAA compliant app development is complex. So, don’t try to meet all HIPAA requirements without guidance if you don’t have enough experience. It’s better to contact a reputed HIPAA compliant software development company. Taking help from experienced healthcare app developers for Compliant Application Development will make the task easy for you and help you prepare better. Hiring an expert is beneficial for both startups and big healthcare companies.
  2. Evaluate patient data: Any healthcare institution will have access to confidential patient data. This data can be stored, shared and maintained via a mobile app. You need  to analyze and identify what comes under the purview of PHI. Once you do that, see what PHI data you can avoid storing or transferring through your mobile app.
  3. Find HIPAA compliant third-party solutions: Providing HIPAA compliant for an app is very expensive. In such situations, it’s advisable to use infrastructure and solutions that are already HIPAA compliant instead of developing HIPAA compliant mobile apps from scratch. This is called IaaS — Infrastructure as a service. For example, Amazon Web Services and TrueVault are compliant with HIPAA and are responsible for data security.

If you are using a third-party solution provider for storing and managing PHI data, you’ll need to sign a business associate agreement with third-party companies and make sure they’re reliable.

  1. Protect sensitive data: Use best security measures to protect sensitive data of your patients. Use several levels of encryption and make sure there are no security breaches.
  2. Maintain and test your app for security: Testing your app is really important. Do it after every update. If there is any issue with your app, it can be fixed immediately.

Maintenance is a constant process that you need to follow in order to keep your app safe and secure.  After you build a HIPAA-compliant app, you’ll need to make sure you update it regularly; otherwise, a security breach can occur.

Learn more: https://appinventiv.com/blog/develop-hipaa-compliant-app/