Are Your Healthcare Mobile & Web Apps HIPAA Compliant?

Your healthcare organization is stepping into the world of digital marketing. A business, no matter what type, is invisible if you cannot find them on the internet, that is why it’s important to provide your patients with a HIPAA compliant website. Grow your customer base or provide your existing patients with additional information about you, your practice, or your industry with a custom healthcare website.

Mobile devices are driving web traffic more than ever across all sectors. It’s essential to make sure your healthcare website design is responsive for both mobile and desktop visitors. Patients use smartphone applications to perform a variety of tasks from shopping online to booking vacations, don’t be left behind and give your patients the ability to engage with your healthcare organization through a HIPAA compliant mobile app. A patient’s privacy and security are of utmost importance to your practice. Do not place your patients at risk by failing to give them HIPAA compliant solutions online.

What is HIPAA Compliant healthcare website design?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was created to conserve patients’ privacy. This is done by reducing access to patient’s PHI (Protected Health Information) and limiting its use by third parties. The HIPAA Privacy Rule comprises national rules and regulations for the use and exposure of PHI in all aspects of healthcare and operations by covered entities. As a healthcare organization, you are well aware of the guidelines regarding keeping both a hard copy and electronic health records (EHRs) safe. But when it comes to HIPAA compliant healthcare web design what are your duties? Keeping patient information secure is as crucial within your online presence as it is in your office.

Most potential patients initially use your site only to investigate your healthcare company. But if they require more information or choose you as their healthcare provider, they may engage with your website in multiple ways, including:

  • Completing contact forms
  • Filling out patient intake forms
  • Booking appointments online
  • Managing their financials

All of these interactions require a certain level of PHI to be disclosed. PHI is information that a healthcare organization retains regarding a patient’s health, care received, or payment for said healthcare. There are 18 PHI identifiers. Examples of these identifiers include patient name, address, date of birth, phone number, and much more.

Healthcare website design company

Your healthcare organization may not be familiar with HIPAA compliant web development requirements..

Whatever HIPAA compliant website design company, you choose to create your website must sign a BAA (Business Associate Agreement). A BAA states that the company that you are working with is also responsible for all PHI handled by the company or website they build.

Things your HIPAA compliant website should include:

  • SSL certificate. An SSL certificate grants users an encrypted link between them and your server.
  • HIPAA compliant links. Your HIPAA compliant website should only link to other compliant channels. When an existing or prospective patient submits any information via forms on your site, the information should be securely sent to a HIPAA compliant system only.
  • HIPAA compliant forms. Compliant forms securely log each form completion and safely transmit the contents to your chosen secure email address.

HIPAA compliant healthcare mobile app development

HIPAA compliant healthcare app development is similar to HIPAA compliant healthcare website design. If your application processes or stores PHI in any way, it must be HIPAA compliant.

PHI should, not under any condition, be stored on a mobile phone; if the device is compromised in any way (stolen), an unwanted user cannot view PHI without logging into the app.

Patients are required to log in each time to access PHI, with a 30-minute auto-logout. To render the healthcare mobile app more convenient and user-friendly, consider using biometric authentication for logins.

If you wish to send PHI with an app notification, the user must first accept terms and conditions which permit you to use minimal PHI in your notifications, clearly defining what PHI is included.

All information contained in a healthcare mobile app should be encrypted at all times.

The cost of failure

Too often, healthcare organizations fail to enforce HIPAA compliance measures at the beginning of the software development process, whether it be healthcare website design or healthcare mobile app development. HIPAA measures need to be implemented at the base levels of an application, meaning that enforcing the standard measures early on can save you a significant amount of time and money later. Not only can you save money on design and development if you put HIPAA compliance into effect early on, but you can also avoid monetary penalties. There are distinct levels of violations based on what a healthcare organization did or didn’t do:

  • A healthcare organization that did not know and could not have sensibly known of an PHI leak could be fined up to $1.5 Million or between $100-$50,000 per incident.
  • A healthcare organization that could have known of a PHI breach but wasn’t purposely neglectful could be fined up to $1.5 Million or between $100-$50,000 per incident.
  • A healthcare organization that was purposely neglectful, but solved the issue within 30 days could face fines up to $1.5 Million or between $10,000-$50,000 per occurrence.
  • A healthcare organization that acted with willful neglect and didn’t make a correction within a timely manner could be fined up to $1.5 Million or $50,000 per incident.

In March 2020, a gastroenterological healthcare provider in Utah was forced to pay $100,000 for a potential infraction of the HIPAA security rule requirements. It is vitally important for you, your practice, and your patients that your healthcare website design and healthcare mobile app development become HIPAA compliant as soon as possible if they are not already. Ease any worries you may have by partnering with a HIPAA compliant healthcare website design company, a trusted provider of mobile app development and web design services. Provide your patients with the quality of care they deserve in and out of your practice.