HIPAA Compliant Mobile Apps

Clarity Is A Medical App Developer Offering HIPAA Compliant Apps
Understanding How HIPAA Best Practices Affect You

Issues Around HIPAA Compliant Development

HIPAA compliance issues affect medical practices, insurance companies, and eCommerce companies that sell medical devices, equipment, and fitness apps that measure key health functions. HIPAA, an acronym that stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, was passed in 1996 and took effect in 2003. The act mandates privacy protection for protected health information (PHI), including digital electronic health records or electronic medical records (EHR / EMR).

HIPAA Compliant Mobile App Development for eCommerce

App development is critical for eCommerce companies, and consumers have embraced apps in a big way for their internet-connected devices. Mobile apps sell in locations like Apple's App Store, Blackberry App World, and Google Play. In particular, eCommerce companies get strong cost-value results by developing proprietary apps for their customers because these applications make it easier to order on mobile devices and provide shortcuts for many online activities. Fitness and health apps, which are usually subject to HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules, must have an accompanying HIPAA compliant website. Downloads of fitness apps have increased 87 percent faster than market averages according to TechCrunch.[1]

Wearable Applications Gain Traction

The latest generation of wearable applications monitors physical activity, health conditions, and fitness metrics such as calories burned, steps taken, and distance covered. Consumers are embracing wearable apps that are built into clothes and accessories. The apps track, record, and store key metrics like blood pressure, pulse rates, glucose levels, and other proprietary and confidential information that fall under HIPAA standards and regulations. These products and their related apps provide a bonanza for eCommerce companies, but these apps could potentially expose health information if HIPAA security best practices aren't followed. Private medical practices, insurance companies, medical device providers, and fitness apps must comply with HIPAA rules or face fines, penalties, data breaches, lawsuits, and damaged customer relations. They need the best HIPAA compliant CRM software available from a trusted medical app developer.


HIPAA Apps Aren't Easy

Ensuring you achieve mobile app HIPAA compliance is doable, but it's vital that you find medical app developers with extensive experience. Clarity has created many secure, flexible, and robust HIPAA compliant mobile apps, and we're ready to help you.

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HIPAA Best Practices for PHI

Mobile App HIPAA Compliance Standards

Fitness apps such as Google Fit and Apple Health underscore how important it is to understand the law when developing apps. Not all healthcare apps require mobile app HIPAA compliance, but if an application collects, stores, transmits, or shares health information, then it must follow with HIPAA best practices.

  • If an app sends or shares health information among doctors, medical staff workers, hospitals, clinics, or insurance companies, it must meet HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules.
  • If an app shares information with a covered entity (CE) or business associate, it must be HIPAA compliant.
  • Apps that provide generic information about health, various illnesses, nutrition, and similar matters don't necessarily need to comply with HIPAA, but they might if customers can use the apps to store personal health information.
  • Medical app developers can protect apps from breaches by implementing strong, mandatory passwords and installing remote disabling programs to clear information from lost or stolen mobile devices.
  • Healthcare app developers whose apps are subject to HIPAA rules need to create plans for monitoring information, recording usage history, investigating breaches, and taking steps to prevent future breaches.
  • If a breach in data occurs, the developer needs to inform any customers whose information was compromised.
  • Encryption and decryption programs should be incorporated into apps and the corresponding HIPAA compliant website design
Healthacare App Developers Should Have a Plan

Proactive HIPAA Compliant App Development

Programmers for eCommerce apps need to think outside the app and anticipate how customers might use apps in different ways than expected. Anonymous data ceases to be anonymous if customers use their apps and devices to store medical details like disease symptoms, personal health benchmarks, and otherPHI like mental health indications and symptoms of mental disorders. If a device is capable of storing PHI — even if it wasn’t intended to be used that way — it falls under HIPAA rules. Examples of unexpected app use that is subject to EHR / EMR HIPAA compliance include:

  • Storing information about medical appointments and health care providers
  • Diaries of appointments that include specific dates of service that could be used to identify patients
  • Sharing symptoms or recovery times with other covered entities, individuals, or business associates
  • Sending emails from an app that might breach privacy, because emails aren't encrypted
  • Anticipating how to communicate with users when they're using an app, because unprotected communications could expose information to data breaches
  • Using third-party services, such as TrueVault and others, to enable communications between a covered entity's database and the customer app's database
  • Considering how push notifications could expose confidential information to unprotected exposure on devices that are used in public settings
  • Researching FDA regulations to determine whether any given app could be considered a medical device under HIPAA rules
  • Understanding that passive devices that record activities like REM sleep, sleep habits, muscle use and respiration rates could be subject to EHR HIPAA protection

Developers should consult attorneys before starting medical app development, as well as agencies like the Department of Human services, as part of their due diligence when building health-related apps. Regulatory complexity is rewriting the rules almost daily, so it's important to anticipate unexpected app uses and make apps that comply with HIPAA before launching eCommerce initiatives. The fines for HIPAA noncompliance are steep and could easily neutralize any expected profits or benefits of customers using noncompliant apps. Err on the side of caution by developing apps that are HIPAA compliant.

If a database contains any kind of protected health information, then it, as well as associated HIPAA compliant websites, must be encrypted. Apps that share information must share decryption information to enable searches. Developers should also vigorously recommend that their customers use passcodes for their devices and apps. Although it's impossible to force customer compliance with passcode best practices, developers can build roadblocks and incentives in their apps to encourage compliance.

PHI Data Security and HIPAA Logging Requirements

HIPAA Compliant Design Issues Challenge eCommerce Platforms

HIPAA compliant mobile apps generate the kind of marketing and promotional benefits that take center stage in eCommerce. These consumers apps are increasingly important because they provide strong value to customers while promoting greater loyalty and ordering convenience. However, eCommerce websites, sales portals, and business operations accomplish tremendous things in background operations that don't get as much attention as apps. Customers expect complementary and consistent websites and web pages because they routinely entrust their medical and billing information to these digital sites. If the design of a website or app isn't appealing, customers won't use either resource. That's why front-end design issues are critical. Other important business issues include having easy-to-navigate web architecture, a searchable catalog, multiple shipping options, and automatic calculations of sales taxes, value added taxes, and import duties. Security issues — especially for wholesale customers who might themselves be covered entities or business associates by HIPAA rules — are of paramount importance. All these issues depend on each company's eCommerce platform, and HIPAA compliant website integrations are just one aspect of the demands that are placed on eCommerce software.

HIPAA Compliance Development Experts

How Clarity Can Help

While there's not such thing as HIPAA certification, Clarity can provide technical assistance, encryption/decryption resources, management tools, and secure access procedures for website, HIPAA compliant apps, doctor portals, and patient eCommerce ERP portals. HIPAA regulations are among the most complex and extensive rules that any eCommerce company faces, and we can simplify compliance by providing secure integrations that fulfill the technical, physical, and administrative security rules of HIPAA. We can also guide you on customized eCommerce solutions for your business and customer-satisfaction needs. Our team of engineers can help you code your apps in C#, ASP.NET, HTML5, CSS, Ruby, and other programming languages. Call or contact Clarity today for a consultation about HIPAA compliance or a free price quote.

Work with Experienced Healthcare App Developers

Navigating the complexities of HIPAA isn't easy. Clarity can provide you with a plan to make sure your customers experience a true HIPAA compliant mobile app. We can tackle your biggest compliance problems.

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[1] Techcrunch.com: Fitness App Usage Is Growing 87% Faster Than The Overall App Market www.techcrunch.com
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