Achieve & Maintain HIPAA Compliance with mHealth Technology

Achieve & Maintain HIPAA Compliance with mHealth TechnologyWhile electronic, digital healthcare information is being adopted more widely, the biggest concerns amongst members of the industry seem to be the risk associated with this type of information, along with the need to achieve and maintain HIPAA compliance.

These concerns aren’t for naught – according to HealthITSecurity, over seven million patient health records were breached in 2013, with an estimated annual cost of $5.6 billion.

While the risk is certainly high, there are precautions that can be taken to dramatically lessen this risk. Additionally, developing a plan prior to a breach is key – your organization should have a well thought-out, preventative strategy that will allow you to achieve and maintain HIPAA compliance.

What Constitutes the Need for HIPAA Compliance?

mHealth applications must follow HIPAA compliance guidelines if they store, record and/or share secure patient health information (PHI). However, if an mHealth app simply acts as a diet tracker, medical dictionary or records daily food intake and fitness information, chances are that it doesn’t need to be HIPAA-compliant.

What Your App Needs to Have

According to Information Week, basic key elements that your app should include in order to achieve HIPAA compliance are as follows:

  • Secure PHI access via unique user authentication
  • Encryption of data that will be stored
  • Frequent safety updates
  • A data auditing system to ensure unauthorized access or modification has not occurred
  • Mobile PHI wipe option, should the device be lost
  • Data backup in case of a device loss, failure or other disaster

Establish Controls to Maintain Compliance

When setting up each app user’s account within an mHealth application, it is important to give them access just to the information they need to see. An administrator should be able to control, edit and/or remove each user’s access, which will limit the risk of a data breach.

When establishing initial security, password creation should follow rigid, set guidelines. A password must be required each time a user wishes to access the app, and access must always occur on a secure network.

Ensure that your organization has the ability to remotely lock or shut down the app should a mobile device that contains the mHealth app be lost or stolen.

Additionally, as your organization continues the use of your mHealth application, you’ll need to stay on top of who has been accessing patient information. To do so, follow the 5 Ws – who, what, when, where and why. Who accessed the information? What patient record did they view? Why did they view it? When and where did they access the information?

mHealth – The Future of the Industry

Mobile technology will continue to become more and more prevalent in the healthcare industry. Organizations need to take the possible risk into account, but also need to embrace mobile technology to support patients’ needs.

Establishing controls to maintain HIPAA compliance ahead of time will help prevent a breach and lessen risk, allowing your organization to take full advantage of mHealth technology without worrying about security.

Interested in an industry-leading HIPAA-compliant mHealth application for your organization? Take a look at Smart Clinic!

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