From shoes, clothes, and groceries to fitness and healthcare consultations, the internet has revolutionized the way you receive goods and services. All it requires is an active internet connection and a mobile screen, right? While it may be true in other instances, online healthcare consultation or telemedicine needs a little more than that, and that is – HIPAA Compliance for Messaging or Video Conferencing Apps.
Have you ever imagined the consequences of a healthcare data breach? It jeopardizes patient safety in addition to data theft, identity theft, and reputational and financial damages. Furthermore, these medical data leaks provide a possibility for criminals to file fraudulent insurance claims, making it simpler to traffic pharmaceuticals and buy and sell faulty medical devices, endangering the healthcare industry at a national, or worse, at a global, level.
In case you’re wondering what HIPAA Compliance is, how it is related to medical data leaks, and why it is so crucial for telehealth messaging apps to be HIPAA-Compliant, we’ve got you covered.
What is HIPAA Compliance?
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is a federal law put into effect by the US government that lays forth guidelines to prevent the sharing of private patient health information (PHI) without the patient’s knowledge or consent.
HIPAA compliance regulations apply to anybody who provides treatment, payment, or administration in the area of healthcare. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance is also required for business associates, who include anybody who has access to patient information and offers help in treatment, payment, or administration. Other entities, such as subcontractors and other relevant business connections are also subject to HIPAA.
When do you need to implement HIPAA Compliance for your app?
Before jumping to the implementation of HIPAA Compliance for your app, you first need to understand what is considered Protected Health Information (PHI) under HIPAA.
To be Protected Health Information, data must be connected to unique identifiers such as patients’ names, identifying numbers (such as account numbers), and demographic data (e.g., gender). Additionally, for the information to qualify as Protected Health Information, it must be utilized or communicated by a “covered entity” or “business partner.”
Covered Entities are organizations that handle PHI, such as healthcare suppliers, insurance companies, and clearinghouses. Business Associates, on the other hand, are anybody who works for a Covered Entity, such as attorneys, IT specialists, accountants, billing services, email encryption providers, etc.
If you’re building a telemedicine app, it’s extremely essential for you to understand how to keep private and personal medical information secure and encrypted. However, whether your app needs HIPAA Compliance depends.
- Your telehealth app must be HIPAA-compliant if it collects, maintains, stores, or shares personal data (such as name, and date of birth).
- Your app does not need to be HIPAA-compliant if it merely gathers anonymous data that may not compromise anyone’s privacy.
Must-Have Features for HIPAA-Compliant Healthcare Chat App
You must ensure that your HIPAA-compliant video conferencing app meets security requirements and also fulfills the purpose of the app, which is to enable users to receive medical advice whenever they need it from anywhere in the world without having to inconvenience themselves by traveling to a hospital.
- Live Video Consultations
With this feature, users may communicate with professionals in real-time by selecting the video consultation options. Besides, the live video feature improves the accuracy and efficacy of virtual diagnosis by allowing to screen patients body language and facial expressions.
Creating a telehealth app with in-app alerts is a great idea since it may help in situations where communication is urgently needed. Notifying the other party of the scheduled message delivery will ensure that nothing crucial is missed.
- Cloud Integration
Cloud storage in healthcare video conferencing apps would allow users to access information from any device, anywhere just by logging into their accounts. It will allow users to seamlessly change devices and will also aid in the storage of electronic records of medications, medical history, medical photographs, and other information.
- Screen Recording
When patients need to go through the prescription or exercises again, recording is a good backup alternative. Similarly, doctors can also review the consultation record for details that could be critical to a patient’s survival.
- Saved Chat History
Messages with full context should be available at all times in healthcare chat apps. This will aid in the revision of prescriptions, advice, or any other health-related issues. It is ideal to have the option to alter or remove the message, along with a notification of changes.
Why should you use a HIPAA-Compliant Chat App?
By now, it is abundantly clear that achieving HIPAA Compliance is highly critical for your healthcare messaging app for privacy and security concerns. But besides these reasons, having a HIPAA-Compliant app offers you many additional benefits.
- Trust – HIPAA-compliant healthcare chat apps are more trusted. This is because it ensures patients that their personal and sensitive data is secure.
- Loyalty – Loyalty follows trust. Increased patient loyalty is one of the primary advantages of HIPAA compliance for your telemedicine app. When a patient knows they can rely on your healthcare app, they are more inclined to use it again.
- Profitability – When you retain more patients owing to loyalty, your app’s profitability rises. Retaining current patients enhances your recurring income.
How to choose a HIPAA-Compliant chat API and SDK?
When looking for a HIPAA-Compliant chat API or SDK, pay attention to the 4 HIPAA rules – security, privacy, enforcement, and breach notification. The security rule employs four technical safeguards to ensure that data is secure, access is restricted, and only properly authenticated individuals are permitted.
- Access Control requires that processes and rules be in place to guarantee that only authorized users have access to PHI data.
- Audit controls require that specific processes be in place to analyze individual access and activity in the system.
- According to Integrity Controls, PHI data must never be inappropriately deleted or changed.
- Transmission Security requires that security measures be in place to guarantee that no unauthorized access to PHI data occurs while it is being transported over a network.
- Additionally, choose a provider who will sign a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) and ensure that the Chat API can be hosted on a HIPAA-compliant Cloud.
Top 5 HIPAA-Compliant APIs and SDKs for messaging and video conferencing
We looked for some of the top HIPAA-Compliant APIs and SDKs for developing video-conferencing and messaging apps for the healthcare industry that can make virtual consultations a piece of cake with their top-notch features.
MirrorFly is a highly secure and scalable real-time communication solution that provides a superb suite of Voice, Video, and Chat API and SDKs with self-managed as well as cloud pricing models for enterprises. With over 150 features, a Self-Hosted Video call solution, including voice, and screen recording, you can design HIPAA-compliant chat apps that fit all of your demands or integrate them into any existing or pre-built device effortlessly.
Twilio recently released Twilio Flex, which can be used to create HIPAA-compliant healthcare apps containing protected health information (PHI) for enterprises.
Stream is a HIPAA-Compliant scalable and fast API for developing social networks, activity feeds, activity streams, and chat apps. Stream lets its customers go to market faster and deliver a higher quality user experience.
Sendbird’s high-quality live video calling api is HIPAA-compliant, which means that healthcare providers, including telemedicine and virtual healthcare service providers, healthcare clearinghouses, health plans, and health communities, can send protected health information using the Sendbird API with confidence.
PubNub’s APIs are all HIPAA compliant, enabling SaaS developers to create everything from mobile chat apps to secure data systems tailored exclusively for the medical industry.
You got a fair understanding of HIPAA Compliance, the importance of carrying out any communication related to the healthcare industry on HIPAA-Compliant Apps, and the top HIPAA-Compliant APIs to develop your own software for seamless communication in this article. It must be noted that while your software app may comply with the regulations of your target market, several security levels must be sorted out within the enterprise that will utilize your app.
In such cases, MirrorFly can be your guiding force to build the most user-friendly HIPAA-Compliant chat app for telemedicine. MirrorFly is a prominent provider of SAAP and SAAS-based in-app chat, voice, and video call APIs for third-party apps, and web integration. MirrorFly’s APIs and SDKs, with unwavering security and privacy standards, have powered billions of chats. Connect with us to know more.