As technology advances, more and more people are turning to health apps and websites to track their fitness and nutrition. While this can be a great way to stay healthy, it’s essential to ensure that these apps and websites are HIPAA-compliant. In addition, HIPAA protects the privacy of patient information, so you need to use specific tactics to encrypt, collect, and store personal data safely.
HIPAA was created in 1996 to protect patient information, including healthcare providers, health insurers, and clearinghouses. Health and fitness apps don’t need to be HIPAA-compliant. However, they sometimes contain sensitive customer data. Therefore, we recommend you follow HIPAA regulations to ensure your customers feel safe about their data.
1. What is HIPAA? What do you need to know?
HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, is a U.S. law designed to protect patient information privacy. Any firm that handles protected health information, such as hospitals, doctors, and insurance companies, is considered a covered entity.
HIPAA is essential when your team of developers is creating your health app. You don’t want your health app to fail the checklist later in this article. Otherwise, you may be subject to legal trouble. In addition, when patient data leaks to the public, you’re responsible for potential dangers to your patients, including fraud.
2. How to keep your health apps and websites HIPAA-compliant
Here are a few key steps you need to take to ensure your health app or website is HIPAA-compliant.
- The first step is to get familiar with the HIPAA Security Rule, which sets the requirements for protecting electronically protected health information (ePHI). The rule applies to any company that creates, accesses, and stores patient data. When you store sensitive data like prescriptions, medical history, and family history, it’s vital to protect that information so you don’t end up with legal trouble.
- The second step is to put policies and procedures in place to meet the requirements of the HIPAA Security Rule. You’ll need to make sure your team understands the importance of protecting patient data. You’ll need to have a process for dealing with any security incidents that may occur.
- The third step is to use secure transmission methods when processing patient data. For example, using blockchain technology rather than electronic health records protects patient data. Additionally, you want to encrypt all customer data to prevent it from being accessed by unauthorized individuals.
- The fourth step is to make sure your health app or website is accessible only to authorized users. You’ll need to include user accounts and passwords. Additionally, you’ll need to assign different access levels depending on each user’s role. For example, you wouldn’t allow patients to access other data; however, you might grant this permission to a health administrator.
- The sixth step is to monitor your health app or website for potential security threats. As time progresses, hackers become more adept at accessing data, breaking encryptions, and performing data leaks. Therefore, according to Digital Authority Partners, you need to have a process to identify and mitigate these threats. If you’re looking for a team of experienced developers, you can find healthcare app development here.
Other tips for added security
Use the cloud to store and backup data.
By using the cloud, you’re able to free up server space on your app. This free space makes your app faster, creates a better user experience, and helps avoid random crashes. Additionally, using the cloud makes data backups, storage, and removal easier. Some HIPAA-compliant clouds include (but aren’t limited to):
- IBM Cloud
- Microsoft Azure
- Google Cloud Platform
- Oracle Cloud
Track the actions of users (patients and administrators).
If you’re going to have a HIPAA-compliant app or website, you need to track your users’ actions. That means logging which users are accessing information and when. It would be best if you also need to track who is modifying patient information and when. Tracking creates a backlog of data if any breach happens.
Avoid push notifications with sensitive information.
Push notifications are outstanding for reminding patients to pick up prescriptions, take medication, and update their doctor on how they’re feeling. However, you should avoid sending push notifications with sensitive information. Sensitive information includes anything from medical history to addresses.
Push notifications are easier to access remotely for people trying to steal patient data. Additionally, if you’re going to send a notification, make sure that the recipient has opted-in to receive them.
Two-factor authentication requires two forms of identification before logging into an account. One form of identification is something the user knows, like a password. Another method for two-factor authentication is receiving a temporary code. For instance, the user could receive a quick code texted by an automated number. This extra layer of security helps protect your data if someone manages to get ahold of sensitive login data.
Not all of these extra security tips are required, per se, but we recommend implementing as many as you can. The number one priority for health apps and healthcare providers is data security.
Making your health app HIPAA-compliant can provide several benefits for both you and your patients. Some of the key benefits include:
- Confidentiality and privacy of patient information
- Protection from data breaches
- Compliance with industry regulations
By making your health app HIPAA-compliant, you increase the trust built with your patients and colleagues. Everyone knows their data is accessible, safe, and secure at all times.
HIPAA Compliance is important because it ensures that all patient information remains confidential and protected. With the increasing popularity of health apps and websites, it is more important than ever to ensure that your patient’s personal health information is safe and secure.