How to get your medical mobile app HIPAA certified

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What is HIPAA certification and what are the requirements? Why is HIPAA certification for medical mobile apps a must? How do you get HIPAA certification? How do you protect health information? What should you take into consideration if you deal with mHealth app development? All these questions can boggle the minds of developers and healthcare providers. Here we’ll try to answer these questions and explain the peculiarities of the HIPAA certification process.

We are living in the age of digital devices. They emerged over a decade ago, and today digital technology is ubiquitous for industries such as trade, science, entertainment, and television. Digital technology and social media are even utilized throughout the healthcare industry as the popularity of wearables and medical apps proliferated.

Many users store their personal data in electronic form which resulted in the development of a lot of software and digital devices. And the number of those is still growing. The range of health information technology solutions includes desktop software (e.g. for electronic health records), mobile apps, various gadgets, and digital assistants, such as Siri, Alexa, Cortana, and Alice.

There are also intelligent virtual assistants (IVAs) and medial virtual assistants (MVAs), which help people look after their health like Sensely, and virtual assistants for doctors, which help doctors navigate patient electronic health records (EHRs) and manage medical documentation, such as Dragon Medical Assistant by Nuance and Suki.

The majority of IT solutions and digital devices use personal data for owner identification and get access to that person’s personal finance information via credit cards and digital payment systems such as PayPal, LiqPay, and iPay. Most of these devices and apps store information on public media such as cloud storage, which are powerful industrial computers and vast sets of storage incorporated into a single network with common and unified user interfaces for people and application programs, mobile devices, client-side software, and the devices in themselves.

This invention is IoT (Internet Of Things). Currently, every mobile device, gadget, or IoT device vendor uses a cloud as a place for reliable and safe information storage, data timing and communication between devices, and social media as a tool for user identification. While these devices and apps make things easier for people, there’s a dark side: this information can be accessed by hackers who can steal sensitive information such as personal finance or health data that can be used for blackmail purposes.

Today 75% of digital devices or software users around the world directly or indirectly use these technologies for data transmission between devices, pushing up the demand for software and/or gadgets and cloud technologies.

Due to the growing number of apps and breaches, governments have created laws to regulate the disclosure of private information to protect the rights of citizens and business entities and to control the dissemination of information in cyberspace. These regulations are the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) of 1996 of Public Law 104-191, and the requirements and standards for electronic data transmission and storage known as Health Level Seven (HL7) and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). 

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Today HIPAA refers to the healthcare domain and covers almost any software that is used in the healthcare industry. GDPR represents a set of generalized rules for data handling and storage as well as data access. In 2013, the National Institute of Security and Technology Cybersecurity Framework (NIST CSF) was adopted, which is the most dynamic developing framework for cybersecurity.

We take a closer look at all of these regulations and how to adopt their requirements in your medical mobile app development in our Guide.

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