Modern technology has influenced the productivity and connectivity of mobile app software development today more than ever before. From nurturing our hobbies to making life easier, it seems there is an app for everything under the sun. But we don’t mistake it to be all fun and games. Leading and publicly influential professions are catching wind of these advances and incorporating them into company productivity. For example, task- and solution-oriented health and wellness apps have experienced a shift in focus, as health professionals partner with mobile app developers to advertise more accessible services to their patients.
With these forward-moving advancements comes greater responsibility for how to manage the patient information required for best practice and optimal app use. Confidentiality is the obligation of all health care professionals, and mobile app guidelines are dependent upon the scope and use of the information provided. The more familiar users are with the patient information standards that govern their mobile app, the better they can serve their users. Our goal is to clarify the types of apps that require federal compliance and keep users playing by the rules.
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HIP HIP… AA?
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is the federal policy requiring companies to manage patient information using best practice. It lays out the standards and guidelines for companies to abide by if identifiable information plays a role in company functioning. The doctor’s office, for example, is under HIPAA regulation, as is the dentist and the insurance company. That may be a no-brainer, but with the increase of mobile health and wellness apps, HIPAA regulations are extending to include all facets of patient information, regardless of where it is given, be it in a paper file or electronic database.
Below is a list of mobile application types that must be HIPAA compliant if it is to best serve its users. Remember that this is all about best practice and ensuring the privacy of user information, and a safe user is a satisfied user.
Any form of identifiable information collected by a healthcare service is subject to HIPAA compliance. This includes name, date of birth, social security number, and any associated medical documentation. These identifiers are formally known as protected health information (PHI) and have traditionally been stored privately with limited access at health care offices and in a database.
Health-related mobile apps have begun asking for identifiable information to increase productivity and extend innovative practices. If, for example, a user is unsure of whether his or her symptoms are severe enough to go to the doctor, there are apps that allow for close-to-immediate dialogue with medical personnel. These apps require the user to provide identifiable information in the event of an emergency or for medical history and documentation purposes. As a result, these apps are subject to HIPAA compliance.
Medical professionals thrive on case studies, and the release of information policies and documentation allows them to share information among other compliant professionals. Let’s say a group of specialists located in different states would like to collaborate about the latest technologies being used to treat a certain illness. Let’s also say the meeting will be electronically broadcasted to a group of nursing students in the lecture hall. Now, let’s put on our thinking caps.
We know at this point that these medical professionals are pledged to HIPAA guidelines, but what about the mode of communication they use to electronically host a said meeting? Is that subject to HIPAA regulation? Absolutely. Even mobile communication apps and software that allow for the interaction of multiple hosts must be HIPAA compliant for medical professionals to share medical information ethically. Otherwise, they run the risk of protected health information (PHI) being shared via an unprotected facet. Agora is one of those HIPAA-compliant mobile communication apps, just in case you were wondering.
HIPAA is composed of two leading guidelines, one being the Security Rule. The Security Rule is important for mobile app developers because it specifically addresses how to handle protected health information (PHI) ethically in an electronic context. This includes a pledge to the confidentiality and protection of electronically protected health information. This may be easy for health insurance companies and medical offices to understand, given that their existing hard copies are being transferred to electronic information. However, even companies whose services have only existed electronically are subject to HIPAA compliance.
Whether your mobile app is designed to collect, store, share or electronically handle protected health information (PHI), HIPAA compliance is a must. Agora strives to protect all user information, no matter the method. Let us help you provide the best practice and increase user accessibility and satisfaction. After all, a safe user is a satisfied user.