Editor’s note: In the article, Alena shows how to make healthcare software HIPAA compliant by following the example of 2 ScienceSoft health computing projects. It also briefly covers common measures to achieve HIPAA compliance and dispels various myths related to HIPAA-compliant software. If you are looking for help developing secure healthcare software, we encourage you to consider ScienceSoft’s health software development offer.
Throughout my practice, the problem of HIPAA compliance has always been burning in the healthcare industry. Whether it’s a healthcare provider or a software product company, or a medical device manufacturer, our customers always want to make sure we can make their software comply with HIPAA. Therefore, based on ScienceSoft’s 16 years of experience in developing and implementing medical solutions, I would like to talk about how to make software comply with HIPAA compliance.
I always recommend the following steps to achieve HIPAA compliance with health software and PHI (protected health information) security:
- Data encryption – translate patient data in transit and at rest into a form that cannot be decrypted by unauthorized users or users who do not have an encryption key. There are many types of data encryption, for example, file-level, block-level, and so on.
- Data access control measures – Configuration of user roles, user authentication, access rights, action permissions, automatic logout, etc. These measures help restrict access to the system in accordance with the particular permissions established for user roles, so that you can achieve the privacy of patient data and minimize the possibility of its leakage. .
- Security audit procedures – Periodic security measures, such as vulnerability assessment, penetration testing, continuous system monitoring, etc.
You can find more details about these measures in the recent article by my colleague Alena Niluliak, health computer consultant at ScienceSoft.
Let’s see how the principles of HIPAA compliance can be realized in real life software development projects.
ScienceSoft designed an Android telehealth app for Chiron Health, a telemedicine platform widely known for medical video appointments. The application allows patients to book appointments and receive medical consultations from their doctors through the audiovisual channel. To ensure HIPAA compliance with the telehealth application, we have applied:
- Password protection.
- Establishing user roles (a patient, a doctor, an administrator) with a particular permission setting.
- Registration using email / telephone verification code.
- In-traffic encryption of the peer-to-peer video connection using the HTTPS protocol for communication with the server.
ScienceSoft developed an iOS mobile app for a European mobile patient participation software provider. The mobile app provides inpatients secure access to their health history, lab results, medications, enables communication with caregivers, and entertainment activities. Here are some of the steps we’ve taken to make your application HIPAA compliant:
- PIN protection (configured by a patient’s case manager).
- Establishment of user roles (a patient, a doctor, a nurse, a case manager) with a particular permission setting.
- Establishment of secure communication channels (text messages, image and voice, video conferencing) with the help of data encryption in transit.
HIPAA certification is required to ensure or demonstrate HIPAA compliance
There are many HIPAA certification proposals on the market, which deceive many companies. Some think that these HIPAA compliance certificates are official documents, and it is mandatory to have them. In fact, these results of HIPAA certification are not legally recognized by the US government. Mostly, these proposals are HIPAA compliance tests or third-party training services that are optional, according to the HIPAA safety rule.
HIPAA-compliant software guarantees an organization’s HIPAA compliance
Whether it’s a telehealth app or a patient portal, a HIPAA-enabled healthcare solution is just one part of your internal digital and administrative system. In order for your entire organization to be HIPAA compliant, you must create a HIPAA-compliant environment where all the guarantees of internal processes (digital, administrative, technical, etc.) are configured. And a properly implemented and configured HIPAA compliant solution can become a reliable part of your organization’s global environment.
HIPAA violations can cause multimillion-dollar fines, harm your public image and the trust of your patients or clients. To avoid these problems, I recommend that you choose a professional vendor with extensive experience in offering HIPAA compliant solutions. Therefore, if you are considering developing a HIPAA claim software, we invite you turn to ScienceSoft’s healthcare IT team.
Are you looking for a solution to your healthcare IT challenge? Our experienced healthcare consultants are here to help.