HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) is one of the most important United States federal statutes which has a great impact on the development of medical software. This act stands for the safety of the protected health information (PHI) and defines security standards that each digitized medical business should follow. HIPAA sets numerous requirements for data security management. Enabling these rules is not easy and sometimes creates much complexity during the development process.

Our client, a medical business developing a pulmonary disorder management app, has encountered this problem which became even more challenging because the consideration for HIPAA was not included in the initial project planning. The client identified the need to satisfy HIPAA requirements halfway through the project.

Initially, the client approached ABCloudz with a request to develop a secure healthcare app with a limited user base. They relied on us because of our proven expertise in building feature-packed healthcare apps and a rich portfolio of web and mobile software solutions. However, the client’s business objectives changed halfway through the project. The customer started pursuing profitable partnerships with healthcare insurance companies. This would be impossible without the status of a HIPAA-compliant entity, so top-notch security and security tracing mechanics became vital for the client’s app. During this journey, the ABCloudz team had to make an extra effort to meet & exceed HIPAA standards and get the application prepared for the upcoming HIPAA audit.

Read this post to find out how the ABCloudz team handled this challenge and how we can help other medical businesses get prepared flawlessly for the HIPAA audit.

The many challenges of the HIPAA audit

One of the greatest challenges of the HIPAA audit is that it may be extremely difficult to navigate through all HIPAA regulations and determine which of them apply to your product.
Next, HIPAA sets strict requirements for some security features of the app. For example, it defines strict rules for PHI encryption. All PHI information should be encrypted according to sophisticated data encryption algorithms. Only specific user groups with high-level security rights shall get a key that enables them to decrypt the protected data. If an entity that is covered by HIPAA fails to encrypt PHI accordingly, it won’t get the status of a HIPAA-compliant business. This entity will need to have all issues fixed by a specific deadline. If the entity fails to meet such a deadline, further action, including substantial fines, shall be taken. Check the image below for more information on such fines.

Apart from data encryption, HIPAA audit is associated with many other requirements, such as classifying data, building a system of permissions, and many more. Due to its proven expertise in delivering HIPAA-compliant solutions and dealing extensively with the most strict security regulations, the ABCloudz team certainly knew how to approach these challenges.

Deep dive

Our team has defined and built the client’s app architecture, therefore we possessed a great knowledge of it. However, a very thorough analysis of the architecture and design was needed as part of the HIPAA audit to ensure that no security concerns were missed.

Therefore, we worked very closely with certified HIPAA compliance consultants to identify all potential issues pertaining to the client’s app. These consultants helped our team to determine the four basic directions for HIPAA compliance preparation: risk analysis, risk management, sanction policies, and user interactions with information systems.
Once the final analysis was completed, we started working on the required changes in the client’s infrastructure.

Our specialists provided the client with a custom Matrix ALM (application lifecycle management) system to ensure efficient requirements tracing and audit trail. Matrix ALM enables the client to continuously supervise various security issues related to their app. Here are just some application lifecycle management aspects covered by our solution:

• A system of permissions assigned to various workforce members.
• Enhanced functionalities for documentation, review, and modifications of all users’ rights to access PHI.
• Clear procedures for creating, changing, and safeguarding all passwords pertaining to PHI stored in the application.
• Mechanics for detecting and terminating malicious software.

Here is how this Matrix ALM looks like.

Also, we improved project management and release management systems for the client. The latter ensured that no security issues are missed once the app was updated or even redesigned with more substantial changes added.

Finally, the ABCloudz team ensured the highest level of encryption of the client’s PHI and provided the customer with improved security updates mechanics. We relied on our strong technical expertise in delivering HIPAA-compliant apps to medical businesses. Our specialists applied some existing system solutions but customized them according to the needs of the client.

Benefits of HIPAA Compliance

As a result of this effort, the client received a HIPAA-compliant app perfectly prepared for subsequent security updates. Besides, with improved security management practices and security tracking opportunities, the customer could ensure continuous HIPAA compliance and keep their application perfectly secure even after substantial modifications.
A secured status of a HIPAA-compliant entity brings the client the following practical benefits:

• Profitable partnerships with medical insurance businesses and other healthcare companies.
• Confidence in security of their application and its continuity.
• Assurance that the product will not be excluded from the application markets.
• Relieved from the threat of HIPAA non-compliance fines.

How can you leverage our expertise?

The ABCloudz team can tailor our approach to the needs of any healthcare client. We can build a world-class HIPAA compliant product from scratch or conduct an excellent security update of the existing product to ensure its HIPAA compliance. Our outstanding healthcare software expertise, as well as a rich portfolio of secure mobile and web apps, make us a perfect partner for building HIPAA compliant apps. Contact us and we will help you navigate confidently through HIPAA audit and bring your state-of-the-art healthcare application idea to the market in the shortest time.

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