Essential Info about HIPAA Compliance and Mobile Apps
Health apps are becoming increasingly popular for a variety of reasons. They can provide users with fitness tips, help patients and their physicians monitor their condition, and much more. You could get in on this trend by coordinating with an iphone app developers that has experience building these types of products.
Just keep in mind that developing a successful health app requires acknowledging and addressing certain practical realities. Specifically, you need to ensure your app complies with HIPAA regulations. This brief guide will help you better understand what that means in regards to your app idea.
HIPAA Compliance for Mobile Apps
HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) is a 1996 law that serves to protect individuals’ private and personal health information (PHI). Thus, any app which may store this type of information needs to keep it secure. This is another reason to partner with experienced app developers when turning your idea into a reality. You want to know you’re working with experts who understand how to protect important data within an app.
However, while taking proper security measures is important, that’s not the only factor you need to consider when developing a health app (or any app that may involve the storage or transfer of user health information). You also need to understand what constitutes PHI to begin with. This isn’t always as simple as you might assume. Sometimes a person has an idea for an app without realizing that some of the data it could store or transmit might qualify as PHI.
Luckily, experts have offered a few tips to help people like you make better sense of this potentially confusing topic. Their advice includes:
Know Your Terms
PHI is just one term you should be familiar with. If you’re thinking about developing a health app, you should also learn about Covered Entities (CEs), Business Associates (BAs), and Business Associate Agreement (BAA). Research these terms to learn what they mean in the context of HIPAA compliance.
Identification is Key
A single blog entry couldn’t possibly cover all the types of data that may qualify as PHI. It’s best to consult with a legal team or similar professionals if you’re developing an app and you’re unsure whether data it will use counts as PHI or not. That said, in general, any information that has even the slight potential of identifying a user should be protected. This can be as simple as a date of birth.
Know Your Penalties
You’re more likely to take HIPAA compliance seriously if you understand the penalties you might face for non-compliance. For example, a maximum Tier 4 violation could result in fines as great as $1,500,000.00. That’s of course a consequence you want to avoid.
Doing so is much easier when you partner with the right development team. Although it may also be necessary to coordinate with legal counsel, you can limit the odds of non-compliance by choosing developers who already understand these topics. Of course, the right developers will also help you release an app that succeeds.
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