HIPAA Compliant Mobile App Development: Features, Risks and Checklists
Table of Contents
The wide penetration of internet facilities has its imprint on almost all sectors, including the healthcare industry. With most people using smartphones, the demand for online applications is tremendously increasing.
As a result, people are shifting towards tele-medication and treatment. However, every successful product has its drawback. Likewise, the popularity of healthcare applications has also captivated more security threats. Therefore, to organize all the m-apps, the government has introduced the HIPAA act that protects user data and privacy.
This article provides information on the idea of HIPAA compliance, the necessity of HIPAA, the development of HIPAA applications, the cost of HIPAA, and more.
What is HIPAA Compliant Act?
The HIPAA, otherwise known as Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, was substantiated in 1996 by U.S. legislation. Aim of HIPPA act is to secure patient private information and make sure health information is not disclosed to anybody without patient consent. And if disclosed, patient should be notified.
However, due to frequent data breaches in the healthcare sector, the U.S. government established a new law called HIPAA Omnibus Rule in 2013. The underlying purpose of this act is to ensure the privacy and security of the medical information handled by health care providers and insurance companies.
According to the new law, health care providers and third-party business associates are mandated to abide by the HIPAA compliance act.
The Two Components of HIPAA
As the name implies, it emphasizes securing the individual’s health information, including various data like treatment information, lab reports, insurance details, and more. It restricts the sharing of personal information without the concern of the individual.
It is about the safety measures to be taken by healthcare organizations to safeguard the patient’s details. This security rule involves physical and technical measures to protect the integrity of the patient’s information.
The Covered Entities Under the HIPAA Compliant
The HIPAA act applies to all the covered entities that come under the roof of health care and services. The U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) states that all the health care providers, health plans, and healthcare clearinghouses club together under the HIPAA compliance act.
- The health care providers include hospitals, doctors, clinics, laboratories, nursing homes, and pharmacies.
- The health insurance companies, health plans, and HMOs (health maintenance organizations) are clustered together as health plans.
- The healthcare clearinghouse can also be called a third-party service provider. It is because they are directly involved with patient care but are needed to organize and maintain the patient records in the digital medium for easy sharing with other covered entities.
Types of Health Information Collected
There are two types of information: PHI (public health information) and CHI (consumer health information).
In this case, access to the patient’s records is restricted based on the use of the data. Therefore, it is essential to understand the difference between PHI and CHI to understand the implication of the HIPAA act on information collection.
|Public Health Information (PHI)||Consumer Health Information (CHI)|
|It is also known as protected health information, as one can use it to identify the individual via medical records.||It involves the medical information collected from a group of individuals. It does not identify the personal individuals.|
|The medical records include diagnosis and treatment details and also the billing information from the insurance companies.||It includes information on health, medical conditions, and other medical terms.|
|Public health information cannot be accessed or used without the individual’s consent.||The government and NGOs can access consumer health information for awareness programs, statistics, and healthcare development plans. It does not require an individual’s approval.|
|The covered entity handles public health information and is secured by vendors and service providers.||Consumer health information involves information collected through online means like software applications, IOT devices, and healthcare devices.|
What Makes HIPAA Compliance Important?
The surge in the cyber-attacks like data breaches has created a greater concern in the storage and utilization of medical records. The instances of theft of medical information from the database have increased exponentially. It makes the healthcare industry a potential target for hackers.
HIPAA compliance helps the covered entities secure the patients’ medical records through administrative, physical, and virtual methods.
The HIPAA act has created standard rules and procedures to collect, store and use PHI (personal health information) and CHI (consumer health information).
It restricts the usage of medical records and prevents the illegal use of personal information. As a result, the patient has more control over their medical records.
It helps the covered entities and related service providers safeguard the medical information’s privacy, preventing cyber threats like data theft and data breaches.
It makes the healthcare providers and other service providers accountable for any leak or theft of the patient’s health information. In case of any violations, civil and criminal proceedings can be done against the organization.
This act limits the accessibility to health information. It lays certain circumstances under which the data can be retrieved and used. It also enables users to track their details and monitor their usage. Below image shows number of breaches due to unauthorized access to PII data.
Under this act, individuals can retrieve their medical records whenever needed. It could be either health care or medical bill reimbursement.
The Information Secured Under HIPAA
The HIPAA act particularly protects the PHI (personal health information) that can be used to identify the individual. This information can be either physical or digital. The health care data protected under HIPAA include,
Name, age, address, phone number, date of birth, SSN (Social Security Number), and other personally identifiable numbers.
It includes all diagnoses and treatments given to the individual. The information could be regarding both physical and mental health. Some examples are laboratory reports, scan documents, hospital records, and more. It also includes future interprets or opinions of the medical practitioners.
This part involves the health care expenses and the insurance claims if any. One can trace back such information to find the details of the individual.
It is important to be aware of the details that do not come under HIPAA compliance. They are employment details, education records, and other non-identifiable information.
Criteria to Identify HIPAA Compliant Application
Various factors can be used to identify whether the application is subjected to HIPAA compliant. They are of three categories.
The nature of the application depends on the type of organization using it. For example, closed entities like hospitals, health care insurance providers, and other third-party associates will come under HIPAA compliance. So, if organizations or individual physicians use the application, it should be under the HIPAA act.
The type of information collected from the users also plays a crucial role in the development of the application. The data is said to be PHI (personal health information) if the personally identifiable information is linked with the medical report. The application designed to collect user details and their health data is mandated to be HIPAA compliant.
You can evaluate the security features included in the application development to identify whether the app comes under HIPAA rules or not. For example, personal health information (PHI) can be secured using several technologies and safeguard standards.
How Does the HIPAA Act Affect Application Development?
If you are developing a health care application, it is essential to find out whether the collected information is personal health information or not. For example, if a smart band contains information like heart rate, blood pressure, and sugar level of an individual but does not share it with the health care entity, it does not need to comply with the HIPAA act.
But if the device collects health information and shares it with the hospital or doctors, it must comply with the HIPAA act. It is important to monitor the type of data entered by the consumer is PHI or not.
In many cases, even if the application is not intended to collect the PHI details, it may accumulate the same. So, it is mandatory to develop the application with HIPAA compliance to prevent any legal actions during the audit or data breaches.
HIPAA Compliance on Healthcare Application Development
HIPAA compliance plays a crucial role in developing and using healthcare applications. It secures the application from cyberattacks like a data breach or data leak of the user’s health information.
The organizations can implement the HIPAA act on three entity levels: physical, technical, and administrative.
It involves the protection of the database and network for data transfer and communication, which helps to secure Android or IOS devices from cyber threats.
Here, it safeguards the records of personal health information from illegal access. In addition, the Limited authorization policy can restrict the number of persons who have access to sensitive database information. This way, you can protect medical information from leaks or theft.
Online data and applications can be secured by various cybersecurity features like data encryption, secured connectivity, digital certificate, Unique user identification, and other measures.
In addition, the company can utilize network security firewalls and anti-virus to prevent cyber threats. The most effective action to prevent a data breach is to collect only the required information. Too much data is difficult to handle. As per report, data breach of records has doubled in past four years.
How to Build a HIPAA-Compliant Mobile App?
An application can be made HIPAA compliant by following the given steps below.
The first step in developing a HIPAA compliance application is to hire an expert to handle the process. As HIPAA compliance is a complex procedure, it is not advisable to manage it without professional guidance.
Instead, the closed entity can seek a HIPAA-compliant software development company to build the health care application with HIPAA rules. Irrespective of the size of the organization, getting expert help proves effective.
Adopt The HIPAA Compliant Services
For a healthcare application to work, it is essential to have a well-defined cloud infrastructure. Along with the application, the cloud infrastructure is also mandated to be HIPAA compliant.
So, it is a wise choice to adopt a cloud service provider that is HIPAA compliant. In addition, it helps to save a huge sum of money from being spent on HIPAA compliance of the back-end services. Some of the familiar examples are Amazon Web Services and Google Compute Engine.
Identify The PHI
It is essential to identify the PHI (personal health information) from the cluster of data stored in the application to secure medical information from data breaches.
In most cases, the health care application collects confidential data from the users to store and transfer for medical purposes. So, it is better to avoid collecting or storing unnecessary medical data, which leads to data leaks.
Segregate The Data
Storing all types of data in a single place can easily result in a data breach. So, it is advisable to differentiate the PHI data from regular data and store them in a separate database.
This way, even if the hacker can access the normal data, the PHI data will be in secured storage. It also minimizes the need for encrypting every stored and transferred data in the application.
Below image shows that in last three years, hacking incidents are gradually increasing year by year.
Secure Confidential Data
The HIPAA compliance application deals with confidential information like PHI. So, it is essential to protect such data from cyber threats.
You can adopt various security measures to safeguard sensitive data. It includes data encryption, network security, application firewall, and more.
Data encryption is vital in HIPAA compliance among security measures. Make sure that the medical data is encrypted both in rest and transfer.
For the application to be HIPAA compliant, it is essential to have regular maintenance. It is a continuous cycle where the safety gaps are identified and rectified with the response plan.
Along with the software updates, one should update the security measures to mitigate data breach incidents. It is also a good practice to run a penetration test in the application to identify vulnerabilities.
It is important to have a well-defined strategy to monitor the application for HIPAA compliance. These strategies help to maintain the application under the HIPAA rules. It includes PHI security, limited access, security measures assessment, and more.
Therefore, it helps to improve the security measures to cope with the evolution of the application.
Health Application Use Cases
You can determine whether your application comes under HIPAA or not by identifying the use case of the application. So, first hand, it is essential to be aware of the types of use cases for healthcare applications. Some of the important uses are mentioned below.
Telemedicine software has been in the healthcare field for quite a time. But the sudden hit of the pandemic has given new scope to telemedicine applications.
It facilitates online consultation between the doctor and the patients. Here, the sessions are done using live video calls where the prescriptions and patients’ histories are transferred through the application chat box.
Some applications even have a virtual waiting list and regular doctor schedule updates. They are designed to give a real experience of a doctor’s appointment in person.
The EHR is otherwise known as an electronic health record. As the name suggests, these applications are used to store virtual documents of patients’ health information.
For example, doctors can use EHR apps to write online prescriptions and store patient data for further consultations and reviews.
This application is becoming popular among patients with long-term illnesses like diabetes, asthma, allergies, and more.
The health tracker helps the patients in keeping track of their health conditions. For instance, they could monitor their daily medicine intake, new symptoms, health issues, and more. In addition, it helps doctors to evaluate the patient’s condition quickly.
In recent years, people have become crazed about their health and fitness. Numerous fitness applications have emerged to fulfil their needs in the last decade.
The fitness applications are mainly used to track basic vitals like heart rate and blood pressure, along with additional features like sleep cycle, calories burnt, walked steps, water intake, and more. It helps the users to keep track of their health.
Checklist to Make an App HIPAA Compliant
Before considering anything regarding healthcare application development, the first step is to evaluate the risk associated with the PHI (personal health information) collected from the users.
Next, the organization should establish proper data management to check the collection, storage, and transfer of such data. Finally, it helps to assess the risks related to handling sensitive medical data.
Access Control and Management
Apart from gathering the least amount of user data, the entities should also ensure that the acquired data have controlled user access. For example, in health applications, various users like patients, physicians, and closed entities have access to medical information. So, it is necessary to classify the data and allow users access based on their needs.
For example, the patient and physician can access the diagnosis or personal data. But the healthcare providers can only have limited access to confidential information.
Authentication and authorization play a vital role in data security. As we discussed above, authorization refers the limited user access to sensitive data. At the same time, authentication refers to additional protection to secure access.
It includes several measures like biometric access, multi-factor authentication, security code, and more.
For example, in the case of the healthcare application, the users can access their data by using a simple identification like a user ID and password. You can also add other measures like one-time passwords and biometric verification.
It is essential to have a continuous monitoring system to identify data theft or a breach in the application.
Early detection can help mitigate the effects of the data breach and stop the breach from spreading. In addition, you can utilize automation technologies like AI (artificial intelligence) and ML (machine learning) in the monitoring process. It reduces the possibility of human error and works 24/7 so that you can detect the data breach at any time and execute a response plan.
To identify the current threat or to mitigate the future occurrence of data breaches, it is crucial to have an effective monitoring and logging mechanism.
It is the organization’s responsibility to have a monitoring system to track all the activities like data access, modification, and transfer, along with the time stamp and user identification.
In addition, the organizations should record all these details in the HIPAA audit log for future reference.
Encryption plays a crucial role in securing the data either in transmission or storage. Here, the medical data is encrypted using the private key, which one can decode only with the corresponding public key.
Therefore, by encrypting personal health information, even if the hackers were able to steal the data, they cannot understand the encrypted data without that key. It gives additional protection to the sensitive data stored or transmitted online without being sneaked by criminals. It is also important to encrypt the backup data as hackers can also try to steal it.
Data Transmission Security
organizations can take several measures to secure online communication through the website or application. One important step is getting an SSL certificate for the webpage, which protects the website or application page from being tampered with by hackers.
In some cases, the hacker could use the application to redirect to malicious sites. One can avoid it by adhering to the HTPPS protocol and the SSL certificates.
Business associates play a crucial role in closed entities. With the pile of patient records and confidential health information, it is nearly impossible for the entities to manage single-handed.
So, they seek help from third-party vendors to store and manage their data. While in association with such vendors, it is the responsibility of the entities to check whether the vendors comply with HIPAA compliance. Therefore, it is essential to have a clear agreement with the HIPAA compliance clause.
Even with the best security frameworks in place, data breaches are inevitable. So, it is necessary to have a contingency plan in case of cyber-attacks. The primary step is to contain the breach from spreading into another database. You can do it by having a proper monitoring system that notifies the data breach as soon as it happens.
The entities should also have the right remedial plan to execute during such a crisis. Effective monitoring and an appropriate response plan can easily mitigate the data breach.
Awareness Training Program
Employee awareness plays a vital role in cyber security measures. Without cybersecurity knowledge, the staffs are unlikely to follow the security measures.
So, the entities should conduct regular cyber security awareness programs to educate the employees regarding the types of cyber-attacks and how to identify and manage them. With employee awareness, implementing HIPAA compliance becomes easy and effective.
According to HIPAA compliance, data disposal is as important as data storage. When certain health information is no longer required, the entities must delete the information from the database, including all the backup, and permanently delete it.
It also includes the medical records along with the encryption keys. Insecure disposal of PHI could result in violation of HIPAA rules and could result in penalties.
Data Backup and Recovery
HIPAA compliance mandates the closed entities to have a well-defined data backup infrastructure and disaster recovery plan.
The backup of the data collected through the healthcare application or website is needed to be stored in off-shore cloud storage. It is to ensure that data is safe from unforeseen disasters like natural calamities or cyber-attacks.
In such cases, the backup data comes in handy to serve the customers without interruption. Even if the data has been stolen, it can be quickly restored, reducing the business’s impact.
Update The HIPAA Compliance Requirements
Administering HIPAA compliance is not a one-time process but a continuous cycle. The closed entities, as well as the business associates, should be aware of the recent developments in the HIPAA compliance rules.
Regular update in security measures is essential to cope with the growing cyber threats. Failing to update the latest HIPAA rules could lead to violations.
Developer’s Consideration in HIPAA Compliant Application
Several aspects are to be considered by the developers before starting to build the HIPAA compliance (PHI) application. Some of the important elements are mentioned below.
To Develop or Acquire the Application
The first step in health care application development is to consider a viable option between developing or buying the application. The developer should consider various factors like the size of the operation, estimated budget, and available resources before deciding on the method.
For example, for small companies with limited resources, it is best to avail of third-party HIPAA compliance services rather than building it from scratch. But for large organizations with huge data and processes, a tailor-made application can be effective.
Unplanned Data Collection
The developer needs to consider what kind of information is to be collected through the healthcare application. There is only a fine line between regular data and PHI (personal health information) data.
For example, if the application is intended to collect vitals such as heart rate and blood pressure, then it is normal data. But when it is connected to personal information like patient name and phone number, it becomes a PHI.
The unintended data collection is also considered a violation of HIPAA compliance. So, it is good to make the application HIPAA compliant by default.
It is the responsibility of the developer to look for the hosting options for the HIPAA-compliant application. A good hosting partner would take care of all the physical security of the medical data under the HIPAA act.
The entity and the service provider should sign a business associate agreement. But it doesn’t mean that the application is HIPAA compliant by default. Even if the associate handles the physical safeguard, the developer should focus on the technical protection required to comply with HIPAA.
In addition, administrative security should be taken by the organization itself. So, having a HIPAA host does not make the application HIPAA compliant by default.
Storing all sorts of data in a single database could attract more threats from hackers. So, it is best to keep the PHI data separate from other less important data.
For example, the HIPAA hosting should only contain confidential health information, while you can store the other data in a regular database. The lesser the data is, the lesser risk associated with it.
A HIPAA-compliant hosting environment does not mean that the healthcare application automatically comes under HIPAA rules. Apart from the physical security provided by the hosting services, it is also essential to consider the technical aspects like network and database security. While developing the application’s source code, the developers should evaluate the protection of the application network and database infrastructure.
Uninterrupted Online Presence
The application should have a fail-safe infrastructure that could operate uninterrupted even during a crisis. A simple structure like a single database and server will lead to one-point failure. That is, if the database is affected, then the entire application is shut down.
For any application to be successful, it is essential to have a complex structure with multiple servers and databases; when one server is down, the other server comes to the rescue. Even though simple infrastructure looks cost-effective at first, in the long run, customer service is a high priority for any business.
Required Vs. Addressable Security Measures
The HIPAA security rules can be classified as required measures and addressable measures. As the name suggests, the necessary steps are mandated by the HIPAA rules, which means that the organization must abide by such actions. Some of the examples are access control and activity logs.
At the same time, the addressable measures are the objectives set by the HIPAA that are to be achieved by the companies. Even though the addressable steps are mandatory, the organization gets to choose the means through which the objective is attained—for example, the authentication process and encryption technology.
Must-Have Features of HIPAA Compliant Applications
Policies and Procedures
Each organization is mandated to have policies and procedures regarding medical information security. The entities have various options in adopting the policies and procedures, which can be created from scratch or purchased from third-party vendors.
But they must base on the organizational requirements. Procuring vague policy and procedure binders does not prove to be effective in serving the purpose. Your HIPAA compliance application should be designed to support such policies and procedures and facilitate updating them based on the identified security gaps in HIPAA compliance.
It is essential to conduct regular self-audits to find the vulnerabilities in the application. These audits can be in the form of questionaries which helps to self-assess the HIPAA compliance of the software.
In addition, it helps identify the security gaps in storing and transferring the medical information that comes under PHI (personal health information). A well-developed HIPAA compliance application can utilize the data from the self-audits to create an effective response plan. The manual self-audits proved to be cost-effective and efficient when conducted regularly.
As soon as the security gaps are identified, the next step is to create a detailed response plan to fill those gaps. The response plan can be short or elaborate based on the size and the type of vulnerabilities. In most cases, the response plan includes multiple steps or procedures to rectify the spotted exposure. It is also important to define the method and time required to remediate the security gap. Setting a time limit helps to fasten the recovery process—a HIPAA compliance application assists in executing such recovery plans.
Documentation plays a crucial role in HIPAA compliance and the OCR audit. The federal mandates the organizations to have documentation of the security compliance measures.
It is essential under the HIPAA act. A good HIPAA compliance application helps document the self-audits and identified security gaps and remedial measures. It proves the organizational effort to accord to the HIPAA rules. Such documentation comes in handy during the OCR audits. Furthermore, it also helps to improve the policies and procedures of the organization.
In most cases, closed entities use third-party vendors to handle the PHI collected through the application. So, the correspondence between the organization and the business associate plays a crucial role in HIPAA compliance.
It is the responsibility of the closed entity to have frequent checks on the business agreement between the two stakeholders. The organizations are mandated to keep an eye on how the third-party vendor handles the PHI.
There are some incidents in which the closed entities are fined for mishandling PHI by the business associate. An efficient HIPAA compliance software will check on the agreements regularly.
Even with the most effective security measures in place, data breaches are unavoidable. In such cases, an incident response plan helps to mitigate the impact of the data breach or theft.
The breach can be contained when it is identified in the earlier stages. An effective HIPAA compliance application helps to record the data breach, which can be reported to the OCR.
In addition, it protects the organization from severe fines for HIPAA compliance violations.
Challenges in Developing HIPAA Compliance Application
The main aim of the HIPAA is to secure the privacy of patient data. However, in the latest trend, health care applications are collecting user data linked to their personal information.
In addition, with the development of the internet, most health care providers are handling their patient data through applications, making it more vulnerable to data breaches. With entities taking more sensitive health information online, it is challenging to develop an efficient healthcare application that complies with the HIPAA rules.
Handling Big Data
Drastic development in medical sciences has also increased the average life of the individual. As more people seek medical assistance in each stage of life, healthcare organizations are collecting additional health information and storing it for further treatment or insurance purposes.
Thus, the amount of data handled by the applications has increased drastically. So, the application should also be able to collect, store and transfer big data. Such data helps the medical institutions graph the current healthcare development and forecast future trends.
It is also important for the applications to be up-to-date with the latest trends. After all, it is like other software applications.
So, the organizations should be in touch with the market trend and induct it into their application experience. The application users are expecting to have a better experience.
You can utilize technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning in healthcare applications to improve efficiency. It also helps in data management and automatic security features. Only applications with sustainable solutions can have success in the market.
Healthcare devices and gadgets have increased the complexity of implementing HIPAA compliance. Apart from traditional medical institutions, many other organizations are also collecting health-related information through several gadgets and devices.
With more people getting into physical fitness, many fitness applications and IoT devices are emerging in the market. For example, smartwatches can monitor vitals like heart rate and blood pressure, which one can also share with physicians for a check-up.
With the surge of the pandemic, people could not get physical medical assistance due to restrictions on movement and personal contact. Here came the new player called telehealth services that enabled the patients to consult their physicians through audio or video calling.
It also led to sharing sensitive medical information like test reports and personal images with the doctor, which adds to the present ePHI. It is a hectic task to make those applications HIPAA compliance to secure the patient information.
The introduction of cloud technology has left its imprint on almost all sectors; the medical field is not an exception. Most huge organizations have moved their operation to the cloud database where their applications are intended to work. It facilitates faster data transmission and huge storage both off-shore and on-premises.
However, even though cloud computing helps to improve the efficiency of the application, it also makes it difficult to implement HIPAA rules to the applications. In addition, as the companies associated with more third-party service providers, it becomes hard to keep track of all business associate agreements and their security measures.
More Patient Control
People are getting more familiar with the words like privacy and data leak. It makes most people concerned about for what purpose their health information is used. So, they are demanding more control over their medical data.
The other reason is fitness awareness among the population. Many people are trying to keep themselves fit by tracking health conditions like the number of steps, calories burnt, sleeping hours, and more.
It significantly increases the scope of applications to have complied with the HIPAA act. It also means that the applications should allow swift access to the users. It is like a double-edged sword to have easy accessibility and HIPAA security.
Increasing Cybersecurity Threats
The average value per health information is almost double the rate of other information on the dark web. So, the demand for medical data is high among hackers.
In addition, the pandemic has added the scope for digitization of all health information as more organizations turn towards online consulting and treatment. As more information is pouring into the online network, more cyber-attacks are recorded in the medical field.
With the increase in cyber security threats, HIPAA has become more needed and, at the same time difficult process.
Technologies Used for HIPAA App Development
The development process of HIPAA-compliant applications is similar to the operation of normal application development. It includes several tech stack categories, which are as follows.
The operating system and the programming language play a crucial role in application development. The programming language is chosen based on the purpose of the application, while the operating system is picked based on the type of working environment. Other factors like user satisfaction and applicable devices also help adopt relevant technologies.
Servers and Load Balancers
The servers help manage the application’s data while the load balancers help handle the incoming queries and respond to them.
In this way, the incoming application traffic is balanced so that more users overwhelm the application. In addition, it includes various techs like content distribution networks, routers, caches, and more.
Data storage involves storing user data as well as the logging activity of the users. It includes several features like a database, data warehouse, and more to store and retrieve data. These data storage services help to secure the data and transmit it without any hustle.
As the name suggests, the back-end services work behind the application to support the functionality of the application. It includes technologies like servers, operating systems, programming languages, and databases.
These frameworks form the building block of application development. In addition, it aids in carrying out basic functions like database communication, request handling, e-mail forwarding, and more.
The API is also known as the application-programming interface, which acts as a gateway between the front-end and back-end application services. When the client requests any tools or services in the application, API calls are used to retrieve the data or tools from the back-end servers. Therefore, it plays a critical role in application function.
The monitoring tools are used to track and analyse all the technical aspects of the application. It checks all systems like databases, servers, user interface, network security, and more.
As a result, you can identify any unusual activities in the initial stage, which helps mitigate the cyber threats that could result in data breaches.
Apart from these components, any application development needs a proper testing environment to test run the application before deploying. Therefore, it also includes the deployment software and data transmission software.
How Much Does It Cost To Build A HIPAA-Compliant Application?
There is no single estimated value for the cost of making a HIPAA-compliant application. Several factors influence the amount spent on development. They are
- The size of the organization requires a health care application. Based on the size, the process of the application also becomes huge.
- The type of data collected from the users. More complex data, the more the cost of making it HIPAA compliant.
- The number of stakeholders involved in the application usage can also determine the development cost. For example, multiple users like doctors, patients, business associates, and more can utilize the application. It increases the complexity of the application.
- It is also based on the level of security features and layers required by the organizations to protect the application from cyber-attacks.
- The cost is also determined by the organization’s decision on which method to opt for application development. It can be through the on-site technical team, local service provider, or high-end HIPAA development associate.
Considering all the influential factors, the average cost of HIPAA application development can range from $20,000 to $200,000. It is under the company’s discretion to choose from the best available option to match their requirements.
Consequences of HIPAA Violations
You might be confused about what is considered a HIPAA violation and the consequences of such violations. Below are some common examples of HIPAA compliance violations.
- A data breach is considered the primary factor of violation under the HIPAA rules. For example, if the patient data is exposed due to human error, it is considered a HIPAA violation and can be penalized by a HIPAA audit.
- Lack of data security measures like data encryption, uniquely identified authentication, and limited access can also attract penalties.
- Organizations not providing proper employee awareness training also comes under HIPAA act violation. So, the companies should keep track of their regular training program and document it for audit.
- Careless data disposal could also lead to data leaks under HIPAA violations. So, it is important to dispose of the unused data in a secured environment and delete them from all the available backups.
- Lack of risk assessment affects the organization’s ability to identify security issues in the earlier stages. The absence of risk assessment also attracts penalties from HIPAA officials.
The applications that handle protected health information (PHI) are mandated to comply with the HIPAA act. It is the responsibility of the closed entities to take care of both their HIPAA compliance and the safety measures of the business associates. It means that even if the third-party vendor causes a violation, the closed entities will be penalized for the offense.
It is also important to have a proper breach notification policy that mandates the service provider to inform any data breach of the closed entities as soon as the event has occurred. Delay in notifying the breaches results in a higher penalty from the officials.
A regular risk assessment process can help the entities to check for any HIPAA violation and identify it in earlier stages. It is also essential to document such findings for HIPAA audit. If the violation persists for a longer period and is later found out during the audit, it results in heavy penalties and sanctions.
The closed entities are responsible for securing their patient data from getting into the hands of illegal hackers. Therefore, the best way to protect their application is to comply with the HIPAA act.
Organizations having a HIPAA-compliant application are most likely to be less prone to several data security threats. Even in terms of cost, the amount spent on HIPAA compliance is negligible compared to the cost incurred by the data breaches.
So, it is a worthwhile investment in the business. It is essential to abide by the HIPPA rules to have a successful business in the healthcare industry. After all, healthcare applications with less data breach history are to be popular and trustable among the users.