HIPAA compliance tests for web applications

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Editor’s note: Having trouble ensuring that your medical application complies with HIPAA? Read on for some tips on how to test HIPAA web application compliance. And if you want to make sure the medical app you bring to market is fully reliable and secure, check out ScienceSoft to comply with it. testing services.

In 1996, the Health Insurance Liability and Portability Act (HIPAA) was enacted with the goal of protecting personal health information (PHI). Any health software product that enters the U.S. market must comply with it. This prompted a demand for medical software testing for HIPAA compliance.

In quality control testing and software for 32 years, we would like to share our experience in healthcare software testing and take a look at HIPAA compliance testing of a hospital web application.

The HIPAA security rule requires the implementation of 3 types of safeguards:

  • Administrative
  • Physics
  • Technician

The software must only comply with the technical guarantees, while administrative and physical guarantees depend on caregivers.

The technical guarantees contain guidelines to ensure the protection of electronic PHI (EPHI) and consist of two specifications: mandatory and addressable. For us, as a test provider, it is imperative to verify compliance with the required and addressable specifications, to the extent provided for in the software requirements.

Because hospital web applications include EPHI, HIPAA compliance testing requires certain preparatory measures to prevent EPHI leaks. These measures include:

Ensure the security of your Internet connection

Although medical web applications work on the intranet of a healthcare provider, it does not guarantee security. An intranet is typically connected to the Internet through multiple gateway computers. Thus, medical web applications are exposed to threats, such as malware attacks and hackers that aim to access EPHI.

Certainly, healthcare providers guarantee a secure connection to the Internet, but not all parts of medical web applications are protected, as protected pages run slower and load longer, which can impede hospital work. Therefore, in our projects, we make sure that EPHI is not present in the unprotected parts of the application and in the URLs.

Writing the matrix of HIPAA compliance tests

Typically, medical web applications have a complex structure and provide access to EPHI according to the role-based approach. The test matrix that reflects relevant user roles and their access to EPHI will be useful for planning test efforts. For security reasons, we replace the actual EPHI with test data to include in the test cases.

Minimize the exposure of your medical application to threats and ensure the security of patient data!

ScienceSoft software testing services will help ensure compliance with your HIPAA application.

HIPAA technical warranties provide for different types of software. Testing the hospital’s web applications, we focus on checking the following:

Access control

  • Unique user identification (required)

User ID is a unique name and / or number to identify and track the user’s identity.

  • Authentication (required)

Healthcare web applications typically follow the two-factor authentication model.

The first factor it is knowledge based and requires a login and password. To ensure security, we use the most likely negative test cases, such as an empty ID field, an empty password field, an invalid ID or password, an expired account, and a blocked account.

The second factor it is usually based on possession (a security token of software that generates PIN) or biometrics. In our projects, we use relevant test cases for positive / negative tests to verify that the application grants access to authorized users and denies it to everyone else. We also ensure that authorized users only have access to the information needed to work.

  • Emergency access procedure (mandatory)

In an emergency, access to EPHI can play a key role in saving a patient’s life. Naturally, emergency access controls are very different from those normally observed. We check if the web application requires emergency access and use a relevant user scenario to test it.

  • Automatic closing (addressable)

While deemed addressable, this requirement is critical to protecting the privacy of the EPHI. At ScienceSoft, we make sure the app ends the session after a period of inactivity. This period usually takes between 10 and 30 minutes.

Audit controls (mandatory)

This rule requires that activities involving EPHI be recorded for further review. For medical web applications, the standard requires a detailed activity log on a server. Our testing engineers ensure that activity logs record all activities within the web application with a special focus on attempts to access EPHI. We also check that the logs provide sufficient information about the activities of the users when they access EPHI, i.e. the detailed description of the changes made, the information added, etc. Thus, we test activity logs for different types of users trying to access EPHI.

Integrity (required)

The integrity standard requires a healthcare provider to protect the EPHI from improper alteration or unauthorized termination. To validate an application’s compliance with the integrity standard, we use checks that check for human errors and the accuracy of backups.

Transmission security

  • Encryption (addressable) and integrity checks (addressable)

While both specifications are addressable, they are necessary for web applications. Users can transmit EPHI between the back-end and the front-end or between systems (physician-patient communication, emails, sharing EPHI with other healthcare providers, etc.). Whenever transmitted, EPHI must be securely encrypted, delivered to the recipient without any unwanted changes, and decrypted. To test secure transmission, we use user scenarios with access to EPHI (doctors, nurses, computer professionals). During the test, we ensure the security of both types of transmission by using relevant user scenarios and checking the encryption of data at each transmission point. We compared the EPHI sent with the EPHI received to ensure that repeated encryption and decryption did not alter the information in any way.

Not as black as painted

These were the essential aspects we checked in the HIPAA compliance testing projects. In fact, specifications that are more addressable to the scope of the test may need to be included. The final list of aspects to check depends on the specifics and purpose of a particular application. We invite you to take advantage of our experience in testing sanitary applications and come to us for help in defining the optimal scope of the test and performing relevant HIPAA compliance test activities.

With 16 years of experience in healthcare software testing, we will verify your application with relevant HIPAA specifications.



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