Healthcare in the world today is a fundamental right especially so in the USA.
Citizens and providers are subjected to HIPAA which gives patients certain rights to privacy by making providers accountable for the information they’re required to safeguard. Protecting patient information is challenging as a technology provider.
Let’s take a look at the framework for meeting HIPPA compliance and cover questions that you should ask development teams building software for your organization.
What is HIPAA compliance?
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 is a US law that was passed to safeguard data and keep it from getting into the wrong hands.
It is perhaps more binding than the ancient Hippocratic Oath in the healthcare industry. The ability to navigate the policies binding patient data is almost as important as the services you provide.
Providers are required to be more mindful of patient information. This means not discussing health-related information in earshot of others and safeguarding their digital data.
Healthcare providers are now required to utilize a secure Electronic Health Record system to retain patient records. This makes it easier to access patient records and also securing them to prevent unauthorized access to said confidential records.
Point to be noted for healthcare app developers
The PHI (Protected Health Information) isn’t well-defined. This ambiguity can make development a hassle as meeting standards are difficult when such things are poorly defined.
As developers, it almost feels like being set up for failure because of the lacking formalities.
While many projects seem to be wrought with pitfalls, there are certain practices that effectively alleviate such concerns. Truly, with any development project, you should always have user information in your best interest. Even though medical information is subject to harsher scrutiny (i.e. HIPAA violation fines) good coding practices circumvent most of these issues.
The basics of building a healthcare app
For healthcare sites and apps, these are the most important considerations when working with developers:
Secure your website and backend systems. Your typical healthcare app references databases that are likely also used by your website. This is the starting point in ensuring patient data is safeguarded from threats on the web. You can find the best developers in the world to make your healthcare app but if your site and security policies are garbage, you’re simply increasing the attack surface for evildoers. Start with an audit of your existing systems before making any serious decisions.
There are both Azure HIPAA and AWS HIPAA templates that allow devs to build compliant infrastructure. It’s also important that your systems can be easily audited – missing records, fudged figures and other shortcomings don’t look good. It’s best to stick with a tried-and-true setup rather than trying to reinvent the wheel as small oversight can turn into big fines.
User experience (UX) for all demographics. Younger patients will typically be able to figure out how to navigate an app interface with ease. For older folks who might not be as technologically savvy, this can be an issue. Ideally, start with a Design Sprint and think about your less technical users – try to incorporate those who are less knowledgeable about technology in your test group. See how they interact with the app and make adjustments accordingly.
QA process. This helps ensure the app functions as expected and helps identify and correct potential threats. When you’re building an app for healthcare, ensuring everything is airtight as possible will help maintain trust among your client base as well as prevents costly HIPAA violation fines.
Scalable systems that accommodate 3rd party integrations. Developers need to think about using frameworks that play nicely with various technologies. Avoid using obscure or technology that’s soon to be obsolete as this will cause headaches in the very near future.
Don’t get carried away with new features. In the case of mobile apps, some try to “over innovate” their software for various reasons whether it’s to try to leverage such a system for marketing or simply out of passion.
The reality is that most people just want access to their information, the capability to schedule appointments, secure messaging with providers to answer simple questions (AI bots are helpful here) and other seemingly less sophisticated features. Spend time investing in improving your existing features to avoid getting carried away on an expensive feature that won’t be utilized.
Basically, be flexible in your design as this allows you to accommodate a wider variety of user preferences and models. Don’t build something that’s so specific it can only be used in specialized scenarios.
Appscrip can build your healthcare app
We have substantial experience in building not only your run-of-the-mill mobile app but software for the medical industry which is subjected to stringent data protection requirements.