What They Don’t Tell You About Building HIPAA Compliant Apps

The idea of having something like your medical information floating around up in the cloud is concerning to most.

With recent news of data breaches of all sorts, people now more than ever have concerns about how a company handles their private information. Once nested carefully in an office filing cabinet, health records and medical transcripts are now online.

If you work in the healthcare industry, be it a doctor’s office or as a medical transcriptionist, you need something to reassure clients that their information is safe.

The best way to do so? Comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

In addition to being HIPAA-compliant, having security protocols and using secure software will make you the leader in your industry known for caring about their client’s privacy, keeping up with healthcare technology trends.

Conduct in-house assessments of risk management

Assess in-house ways to put rules and security protocols in place in order to comply with industry regulations. For those who work in healthcare, make sure every action and job performed follows HIPAA regulations and requirements.

HIPAA regulations don’t apply to the healthcare providers (referred to as covered entities) alone. They are also applicable to business associates.

Any organization that provides services to an entity covered under HIPAA is classified as a business associate and must sign business associate agreements (BAA) to remain compliant to the regulations.

Any organization that provides IT services, IT infrastructure, mobile app or website development should be made to sign the BAA to abide by the HIPAA guidelines.

HIPAA is tightly regulated and should a client’s medical transcripts or records be sent to the wrong person; your office can be in a whole world of hurt.

Stop that before it can happen with a required checklist of items to review before handling a client’s information.

Reduce the risk of employees being responsible for data breaches

Unfortunately, employees make up a percentage of data breaches for one reason or another. Remember, not everyone in the office needs to have access to these secure files.

Regulate projects so that only the employees working on them have access to a client’s private information.

Of course, every once in a while, you will need to have someone with less authority in the office help you out to reduce your workload.

If that’s the case, consult the client and let them know what is going on. This way they won’t get caught off guard when they find out that multiple people had access to their file.

Having proper access control in place is the best way to avoid accidental data breaches. Access control sets up technical safeguards in place to ensure that only the authorized persons can access sensitive healthcare information such as ePHIs. These safeguards include

  1. User Identification: Providing individual login credentials to all system users may seem like mundane advice but a surprisingly large number of employees use shared passwords to login to the systems.
  2. Automatic logoffs: Just as in case of banking accounts, setting up automated logouts after a stipulated period of time or a particular duration of inactivity can bring down unauthorized access.
  3. Data encryption: All PHI collected, stored and transmitted must be encrypted for protecting it against the threats of data breaches.

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The importance of securing personal electronics

Getting hacked doesn’t always happen in the office. Many times, a breach happens when an employee is at home or in a coffee shop.

One mistake of leaving a computer unattended for a short period of time puts your company at risk of a security breach. Sooner than you know it, a client is coming after you because their private information or medical transcript is on the dark web.

Always be sure to vary your passwords rather than using the same one for every platform or app you use. Additionally, keep data from getting into the wrong hands by encrypting private information.

HIPAA regulations require that any data being accessed is not damaged, lost or unintentionally modified. For ensuring the integrity of PHI, person authentication is a must. This ensures that the person who is logging into the system is actually who they claim to be.

Reduce company-wide and client anxiety

Don’t let your employees get too caught up in the consequences that comes with violating HIPAA.

When it first came out, companies felt on edge and anxious about what would happen to them in the case that they leaked a client’s information. Yes, the penalties are significant.

Most likely, what your company is currently doing already follows HIPAA. As for the client, they’ll appreciate the extra effort and security protocols you follow that make your business HIPAA-compliant. It shows that you hold yourself and your work to the highest of standards.

Setting up robust physical and administrative safeguards in place can go a long way in reducing client anxiety. These include policies in regards to workstation use for the employees and its security, facility access control, and information access management at the ground level to ensure that the data never falls into the wrong hands as a result of employee oversight.

Market yourself as HIPAA compliant

Now you know why your company should follow HIPAA’s rules and regulations. The next step? Let your client or potential clients know that you do.

There are certification and training programs available that can give you that extra boost you need to become visible in the healthcare industry.

Any data that you store needs to be on HIPAA compliant cloud servers.

Add any certifications to your website and have current clients give testimonials. You can also display certifications in your office so that when clients come to meet with you, they can see right off the bat that you’re the right company to work with.

How secure software can help abide by these regulations

When handling a medical transcript or client file, use the software that the healthcare industry defines as being the most secure.

A lot of the HIPAA-compliant software available on the market also make businesses run more efficiently. Now your clients will know for sure that their files and medical transcripts are secure in your company’s hands.

The best way to gain new clients? Become HIPAA-compliant and make it a point to tell them that you are.

With the right software and protocols, you’ll better protect yourself and your client from becoming the victim of a data breach. You’ll instantly give them peace of mind now that they know their records are safe up in the cloud.