Developing your healthcare app takes time, and various constraints must be scrupulously respected. Healthcare data is confidential and requires optimal security.
According to a 2022 report by IBM on data breach, the cost of a data breach in the healthcare sector has increased by 42% since the year 2020. To make matters even worse, healthcare industry has topped the list of highest average data breach cost among all industries, for the 12th consecutive time.
These trends clearly show that there is an urgent need to understand the importance of safeguarding sensitive healthcare data, as it has great financial repercussions for healthcare business owners.
Here is where the HIPAA act steps in.
Compliance with the United States Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) requires companies that process protected health information (PHI) to have a physical, network, and process security measures in place.
Anyone providing healthcare treatment, payments, and transactions is subject to HIPAA compliance. Business associates must also comply with HIPAA, including anyone with access to patient information and providing treatment, payment, or operational support. Other entities, such as contractors and related business associates, are also bound by HIPAA.
Let’s look into why entrepreneurs should definitely seek HIPAA-compliant healthcare app development services for scaling their healthcare business.
Protect patient healthcare data with HIPAA
While all electronic methods of collecting patient data increase efficiency and mobility, they also dramatically increase the security risks to health data. And these new risks make HIPAA compliance more critical than ever.
The best healthcare data protection solutions recognize that data doesn’t get lost on its own. Instead, they are exposed by people – people who are negligent, malicious, or compromised by an outside aggressor. That’s why effective compliance is people-centric, focusing on how people can inadvertently or deliberately expose patient data in all forms, while enabling healthcare providers to securely handle data in order to ensure the best possible care.
Patients entrust their data to healthcare organizations, and those organizations must take care of their private healthcare information.
For this purpose, HIPAA lays down the guidelines that physical entities which host sensitive patient data must follow. These are:
- Limited access to and control of facilities with provision for authorized access.
- Policies regarding the use of and access to workstations and electronic media.
- Restrictions on Transfer, Removal, Disposal, and Reuse of Electronic Media and ePHI.
Similarly, HIPAA’s technical entity requires access control to allow only authorized personnel to access the ePHI (electronic patient health information).
Access control includes:
- Use of Unique User Identifiers.
- Emergency access procedures.
- Automatic logout.
- Encryption and decryption.
- Audit reports or trace logs that record hardware and software activity.
Other technical policies for HIPAA compliance include covering data integrity checks or measures to confirm that ePHI is not altered or destroyed. In addition, IT disaster recovery and offsite backup are vital components that ensure that electronic media errors are quickly corrected and that patient health information is recovered accurately.
Network or transmission security that ensures HIPAA-compliant hosts protect against unauthorized access to ePHI is the last line of defence against cyberattack incidents. This protection applies to all data transmission methods, including email, the internet, or private networks, such as a private cloud.
Also, the use and implementation of data analytics in healthcare should be done keeping in mind these security measures.
Key Elements of a HIPAA-compliant healthcare software
These are the absolute minimum requirements that an effective, compliant software must meet. In addition to meeting all of the security and privacy standards prescribed by HIPAA, an effective compliance program must also have the ability to address each of these seven elements.
- Implement written policies and standard code of conduct.
- Appoint a compliance officer and a committee.
- Conduct effective training and education.
- Develop effective lines of communication.
- Carry out internal control and audit.
- Enforce standards through appropriate publicity.
- Respond promptly to detected violations and take corrective action.
Useful tips for developing HIPAA-compliant healthcare app
Assess IT infrastructure and policies:
The first step is to perform a detailed assessment of the healthcare facility to identify security and administrative policy gaps.
Data breaches pose a significant threat to any healthcare facility, so technical safeguards must be strong. This minimizes the risk of unauthorized access.
When developing GDPR-compliant software, it is mandatory to ensure that health data is encrypted during transmissions. This is achieved using the HTTP and SSL protocols.
The focus is always on offering robust recovery and backup services, ensuring that data is not lost in an emergency.
When developing software, it is essential to have an infrastructure in place to ensure that the transfer of information is well protected.
Archived and backup data that has expired must be disposed of. All unused data should be securely deleted and set to an irrecoverable state.
Given the growing number of cyber threats, ensuring your organization’s security using HIPAA compliance has become even more critical. However, if your business needs help to stay HIPAA compliant, keep the ways mentioned above in mind, and you’re good to go. The more you know about optimizing your compliance efforts, the more you can prevent malicious actors from threatening your business.