Tips For Creating An Effective and HIPAA Compliant Mobile Application
“Medical app developers must be mindful that they use and safeguard protected health information in accordance with HIPAA, and also ensure that their consumer-facing privacy policies are not deceptive.”
– JoAnna Nicholson
Almost 20 years ago(21st August 1996), HIPPA law was enacted by Bill Clinton. Long back then, when technology was just taking baby steps, who imagined something like mobile apps for medical reasons.
But today as per Electronic Heath Report, almost 62% of doctors use tablets and 72% of nurses employ smartphones for their daily practice.
The data can be objectified and said, mobile apps and healthcare are like matches made in heaven. Today there are more than 40000 mobile health apps in various mobile app stores with new ones being added every day by the mobile app development companies.
Millennial’s think that living has become a lot easier with a glut of healthcare mobile apps but they overlook the setbacks of such mobile applications.
The major challenge such apps face is maintaining and protecting the privacy of the records shared by the patients. Such data are always susceptible to the risk of being misused or lost or hacked. It’s not an easy cakewalk.
Even an unsecured WiFi connection increase the chances of sharing or transmission of confidential data. Here is when HIPAA compliance comes into the picture.
It is imperative to understand HIPAA compliance while architecting healthcare mobile apps and software. It is necessary to safeguard the application to secure privacy and authenticity. HIPAA is an abbreviation term for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
The main intention behind making a healthcare application is to help the users in the medical situation and preserve His/Her medical records.
A HIPAA compliant app vastly intensifies overall protection.
If you have a healthcare mobile app that means you transmit or store Protected Health Information(PHI). And if you ignore the security, HIPAA is no safe harbor. You will be violating the regulation.
PHI related to all the information regarding a person, physical/personal or even the payment methods which can be helpful to identify a person.
Such pieces of information are collected by a Business Associate of a Covered Entity and is also associated with a specific individual.
Rules For abiding HIPAA Compliance:
There are specific security rules and guidelines to secure the PHI. It breaks down the method into 3 parts: administrative, technical and physical.
A person is responsible to ensure that the information will not be leaked as these data are transmitted through a medium.
Any entity who is the part of such data transmission is liable and has to abide by the rules.
Administrative means access control and training, physical includes safeguarding the devices and technical means the data.
The question that still remains in,
What factors play a role in Health care mobile apps security? How would you secure it for better?
Even if you are a crackerjack mobile application developer, protecting the data is not an easy nut to crack. Here are a few things that should not be overlooked.
Unique User Authentication:
We know that mobile apps can be password protected but what if you do not apply strong password policy. The password with easy-to-recognize is at risk of being hacked. It is of paramount importance to choose a strong and rare password pattern to avoid the adverse effect.
Encryption of Data:
After collecting the data, the next big task is to secure it for the future. The feature to encrypt should already be incorporated to secure the data soon after transmission over different networks.
The two-level encryption process is storing it on device temporarily and second is to store them in a server.
We, the users have the tendency to forget logging out of the mobile applications after usage. And in case of a loss or theft of mobile phones, it enhances the risk of personal information to be misused by someone else.
It is necessary that the apps should automatically log out after signing in.
Third-party app controls are not 24*7 accessible for remote control and management of mobile devices. So an alternate option is to build a remote wipe feature in the app itself that offers admin controls and allows to erase the PHI is required.
Logs allow us to keep an eye on all the data. It allows monitoring any tempering of data, different activities performed, login time of the users and more. Thus audit logging helps to control the PHI.
Backup and Syncing:
We can say back up of data is the backbone of healthcare mobile applications. The data once collected should be transmitted to a server and safeguarded. It is not always possible for the user to have a secured WiFi connection and therefore it is necessary to have the provision of auto backups and syncing.
To Comply(Read: Wrap Up)
Creation of a secured private mobile health care apps should be the aim of every Android and iOS development companies. Update the app regularly to secure the PHI. Any non-compliance can cause you a huge amount of fine.