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Developing a HIPAA Mobile Applicaton: Doing It Right

Author: Maksym Babych
by Maksym Babych
Posted: Apr 26, 2020
hipaa compliant

The procedure for HIPAA compliant app development is different from others. Like other industries, the Healthcare & Medical entities should have digital maturity.

A mobile-based application is important for digital maturity. It also ensures accessibility to the users. And it is also one of the many dots in a chain of developments needed to achieve digital transformation.

To do that, HIPAA is a crucial and essential component.

The reason is simple. The medical data costs 12 times more than the data of your credit card. Thus, to prevent different kinds of fraud, app development for healthcare should follow HIPAA compliant guidelines.

What do you need to know about HIPAA Compliance?

Online business and applications in the medical industry need to be HIPAA compliant. Compliance to HIPAA relies on two types of rules.

They are Privacy guidelines and Security rules. Under Privacy two things are important. One is that the information remains confidential. Added to this, its maintenance is also essential.

What Does HIPAA Compliance Mean for App Developers?

To check whether your mobile app needs to be HIPAA compliant, consider three things:

  • Who is the app user (entity)

  • What kind of information will be there on the application

  • What is the type of software (encryption)

If the entity is one of the Covered Entity and the information comes under PHI, HIPAA applies. To build HIPAA compliant apps, you need to take care of the following requirements:

  • Mobile app development as per the HIPAA compliance guidelines is an intricate process. Before starting such a project, the developers need to be sure about the whole process. This includes defining the scope of their application usage. This means that the developers need to know how to build an app for Healthcare and what information comes under the purview of PHI. It makes the product HIPAA compliant.Some of this information includes names, phone numbers, and email IDs. Other than this, SSN, Medical records also come under PHI. The US Department of Health and Human Services has named 18 types of information under PHI.So if the application works with any such information, follow the HIPAA compliant app development processes.

  • Set up enough physical safeguards. To this end check the data transfer networks and backend support systems. Moreover, analyze the device integrations in this process. Since these applications have data transmission. An application must have all the safeguards for data protection. It’s a crucial point to consider before starting to build an app.HIPAA compliant mobile app development needs to look at the Administrative safeguards. These safeguards are primarily concentrated on the protection of ePHI.Share only the essential PHI across different platforms. Further, pay attention to the Information Access Management. With reference to information access, only the concerned person must have access to it. Take note of the clearance levels before starting to build a platform.Adopt measures like Fingerprint authentication. But, maintaining the user-friendliness of the HIPAA compliant app is also essential.

  • Data encryption includes setting up unique user identification. Also, take note of the emergency application access procedures, and log out sequences. Plus, ensure that there are no PHI data notifications on mobile devices.

  • Limit the accrual of data due to the least. Do not allow users to store or receive more data than what is needed. It is also essential for data security.

How to make an App HIPAA Compliant?Get Expert Help

The whole process of mobile application development is intricate and complex. Add to it, the restrictions put forth by HIPAA compliance, you will need the help of an expert.

Always get help from experienced healthcare application developers, who are sure on how to make an app in the healthcare domain. Such an expert will be able to audit and analyze your current HIPAA compliant preparedness.

Either you can hire an in-house expert to complete the task. Or outsource the whole process to a third-party expert.

Get familiar with the Patient Data

Any healthcare institution will have access to confidential patient data. This data can be stored, shared, transmitted, or maintained via a mobile application.

You need to analyze and identify what comes under the purview of PHI. Of course, an experienced team will help you to understand what kinds of data are HIPAA compliant. It’s a first step in app development to properly design the database.

Once you have done this, try to figure out what kind of data can be avoided to share hands from the mobile application.

Building the Application

On the basis of the Physical and Technical Safeguards, we can move from planning on how to make an app to the creation. The whole process needs to follow the HIPAA Compliant application development guidelines.

The tech stack depends on requirements and complexity of an application. Yet, usually we use the following stack to create an MVP:

  • Backend – Laravel

  • Frontend – Vue.js, React

  • Mobile development – React Native, Flutter

  • Database – AWS

Healthcare applications are polylithic. Thus, when you look for how to make an app in a scalable way, you definitely find the usage of reactive technologies. And such kind of technologies make a perfect fit for HIPAA compliance:

  • The initial process is usual. There is information gathering about the application along with understanding the client requirements. In the next step, we have application prototype development and designing.Post the development, test the application with fake users. This step is crucial because a HIPAA compliant mobile application needs to be secure.

  • The developers must pay attention to the app architecture in the development process. Along with this, they must also ensure the fulfillment of government requirements for Healthcare software.

  • Testing is also a vital aspect of HIPAA app development. There are various reasons to do that. For one, it will help us test the strength of encryption in the application.The user’s data stored at the stage of testing is fake. The developers check the gateways and authorization processes. While developing the security measures and authorization aspects, follow IAM practices.Identity and Access Management guidelines provide a detailed perspective on the app security. These security checkpoints are in sync with the access controls to build HIPAA compliant apps.

Further, in HIPAA Compliant app development you may need to adopt some less used technologies. This includes SOAP, RPC Calls, and REST. These technologies are common for the Healthcare industry.

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About the Author

I am a serial entrepreneur, IT consulter and Ceo at SpdLoad

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Author: Maksym Babych

Maksym Babych

Member since: Feb 19, 2020
Published articles: 27

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