In 2022, more than 590 healthcare organizations experienced a data breach at an average cost of $4.35 million per event. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was signed into law in 1996 and has become the most significant piece of legislation governing patient privacy and the use, transmission, and storage of personal health information (PHI).
Healthcare organizations are being targeted daily due to the value of personal health record (PHR) data on the dark web and other illicit marketplaces. In response, insurance providers are increasingly mandating third-party risk management encompassing implementing cybersecurity and data governance best practices.
HIPAA compliance is built on three pillars:
- Confidentiality: Personal health information must only be shared in approved methods with HIPPA-compliant entities
- Integrity: Data must remain preserved and unaltered whether intentionally or unintentionally
- Access: All stakeholders in the community healthcare matrix have proper and timely access to personal health records
Healthcare organizations and the third-party vendors they work with have a vested interest in delivering HIPAA-compliant software applications to reduce the opportunity for cybercriminals to access organizational data.
In 2022, 12 data breaches were reported targeting healthcare organizations resulting in the loss of 1 million records, and a further 13 data breaches exposed between 500,000 and 1 million records. The vast majority of the losses were caused by supply chain cyber attacks against health insurance plans with additional attacks coming via business associates, healthcare clearinghouses, and providers.
Asahi Technologies delivers HIPAA-compliant software development services for healthcare enterprises. We build secure and reliable technology solutions to streamline the administrative burden caused by compliance obligations.
In this article, learn some of the key parameters for building HIPAA-compliant software solutions.
Why Build HIPAA-Compliant Digital Health Apps
HIPAA compliance is a complex and nuanced requirement that mandates healthcare organizations to leverage information technology resources, cybersecurity strategies, and data management best practices as well as highlight the organizational professionals needed to execute and maintain them.
Developing healthcare software with HIPAA compliance in mind requires:
- Comprehensive Data Encryption Capabilities
Electronic health records must be encrypted when they are transferred between stakeholders in the community healthcare matrix. HIPAA compliance mandates the usage of protocols such as SSL and HTTPS.
- Robust Data Backup and Storage Encryption
Personal health information needs to be maintained in managed databases in public clouds using robust data backup and storage such as AES and RSA algorithms with strong keys (preferably 256 bits for AES, and at least 4096 bits for RSA).
- Defined Access Management Controls
Identity and access management are key focus areas of HIPAA compliance. Data, passwords, authentication credentials, and IDs must be safeguarded against losses according to risk management criteria.
- Data Integrity is ParamountHIPAA compliance requires PHI that is stored, transferred, and collected to be maintained without alterations of any kind using methods such as PGP and SSL.
- Clear Disposal Processes HIPAA-compliant software needs to back up, store, and adequately dispose of organizational data and decryption keys after access parameters have expired.
- Dedicated Documentation ControlsElectronic health records need to be stored on the servers of the company with whom a business associate agreement has been signed or hosted on secured in-house servers.Building HIPAA-compliant software is essential for reducing risk and fulfilling corporate risk management criteria. Since the breakout of cyber crimes targeting healthcare organizations in recent years, insurance providers have placed a greater need for more robust security and data governance frameworks to limit the liability damage caused by cyber-attacks and data breaches.
It makes sense to develop customer-facing and provider-focused digital health solutions with compliance as a front-of-mind priority. As we move into the future, compliance obligations continue to climb and the fines associated with HIPAA violations increase.
To protect long-term profitability, healthcare organizations have a vested interest in releasing HIPAA-compliant software solutions to streamline administrative burden, reduce costs and protect institutional reputations.
The Key Components of HIPAA-Compliant Software
The absolute best compliance software is the solution that is custom designed to meet the needs of your healthcare organization. There is no one size fits all solution and every organization needs to select a software solution that will provide the utility they need to meet the unique compliance obligation their organization is facing.
- Security Risk Assessment Tools
HIPAA compliance requires regular security risk assessments to be conducted regularly according to federal regulations. An assessment is a baseline snapshot of an organization’s security and privacy practices as they are in place regarding meeting current HIPAA compliance obligations.
- Security and Data Governance Playbooks
After completing your needs analysis, your organization will be able to use compliance software to develop a new plan to mitigate the risks that were uncovered. Following your plan is essential to reducing your risk and your organization may suffer fines or criminal penalties for failure to comply.
- Policies and Procedures
Your new software will allow your management team to create governance structures to ensure your employees, vendors, and partners implement your policies and procedures to limit compliance risk. Your software will help to streamline these practices so that many of these requirements are fulfilled using automated processes.
- Documentation Tools
One of the most time-consuming aspects of HIPAA compliance is documenting measures taken to fulfill the necessities of the law. Documentation tools make it easier to access, update and share key documents with regulators and other stakeholders across the healthcare matrix.
- Business Associate Management
Before sharing data with third-party vendors, your organization needs to execute contracts known as business associate agreements to reduce liability if a supply chain partner experiences an attack leading to a data loss event.
- Healthcare Information Security: Leveraging Blockchain Technologies to Support HIPAA Compliance
Blockchain technologies are emerging as strong development choices for building HIPAA-compliant solutions due to the transparency and interoperability that they support.
In the coming years, more healthcare organizations will adopt healthcare information securities protocols built leveraging key features from emerging blockchain technology:
- Decentralization: Blockchain solutions remove the need to rely on semi-trusted third-party entities that pose a significant risk due to supply chain cyber-attacks.
- Pseudonymity: Blockchain architecture by design protects identities and creates unique opportunities for expanded access management.
- Autonomy: Across the blockchain networks, users maintain access to their PHI and decide who and when to share information with.
- Auditability: All records are securely maintained for posterity across blockchains making it easier to verify compliance.
- Incentivization: The collective and open-source nature of blockchain solutions makes it easier for diverse stakeholders to develop HIPAA-compliant solutions in tandem with each other.
Blockchain is an emerging technology like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and business process automation that is being applied to deliver innovative solutions all across the healthcare industry.
Blockchain networks offer a unique means of preserving and exchanging patient data and moving it between hospitals, diagnostic laboratories, pharmacy firms, and physicians in a seamless way without compromising confidentiality or integrity and ensuring proper access along every touchpoint in the healthcare matrix.
Many software development experts believe that blockchain solutions will be used shortly to more quickly identify risk management focus areas before they lead to negative outcomes for medical service providers. Blockchain technology offers more robust performance, security, and transparency of data exchange making it easier for healthcare organizations to safely share information and maintain HIPAA compliance.
Ready to build HIPAA compliant software? Get in touch today.
- What is HIPAA?
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was signed into law in 1996 and has become the most significant piece of legislation governing patient privacy and the use, transmission, and storage of personal health information (PHI).
- What are the key components of HIPAA compliant software?
Security Risk Assessment Tools, Security and Data Governance Playbooks, Policies and Procedures Frameworks, Documentation Tools, Business Associate Management Solutions
- What are the advantages of leveraging blockchain to deliver HIPAA compliance?
Decentralization: Blockchain solutions remove the need to rely on semi-trusted third-party entities that pose a significant risk due to supply chain cyber-attacks.
Pseudonymity: Blockchain architecture by design protects identities and creates unique opportunities for expanded access management.
Autonomy: Across the blockchain networks, users maintain access to their PHI and decide who and when to share information with.
Auditability: All records are securely maintained for posterity across blockchains making it easier to verify compliance.
Incentivization: The collective and open-source nature of blockchain solutions makes it easier for diverse stakeholders to develop HIPAA-compliant solutions in tandem with each other.