Creating software for the healthcare industry must always follow strict requirements and limits set by both state regulators and medical organizations. In this article, we will focus on becoming compliant with HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) by building a proper IT solution for corresponding institutions, while also considering the HIPAA compliance software checklist.
By the end of 2017, the North American healthcare IT market is forecast to value $31.3 billion. According to Healthcare IT News, the annual growth rate is about 7.4 percent, which will allow the market to become almost $10 billion bigger than it was in 2012. Why has the market grown so fast? The main reason is the need to implement more IT systems in medical organizations, thus creating a higher demand. Of course, there are also other factors that drive market growth.
Other factors that increase the healthcare IT market include:
- A growing pressure to cut medical costs;
- A high demand for healthcare system integrations;
- A higher ROI due to implementing IT systems in health care;
- Serious governmental financial support;
- The need for computerized physician order entry (CPOE) adoption; and
- Aging populations.
Healthcare IT tools must correspond to all HIPAA requirements to make medical institutions integrate them. Let’s talk about the major aspects of software development in this industry.
How to Become HIPAA-Compliant
Here, we will cover the elements that must be implemented in software for medical organizations to ensure HIPAA IT compliance. Based on the following recommendations, developers can adopt the features they need to adhere to all requirements.
According to the Act, healthcare providers must perform regular audits to identify possible risks for data breaches or privacy violation. A HIPAA-compliant software should utilize these audits to analyze the compliance level of a particular medical organization and provide it with detailed information concerning risks and current errors, including recommendations. The audits may include a form of quizzes, which will make them easy to use for medical staff.
The above-mentioned audits will help forecast risks or detect errors related to HIPAA compliance. On the other hand, a remediation plan will allow healthcare providers to correct mistakes and prevent their reappearance. That is why such plans have to be included in medical software. Furthermore, every medical institution has to develop its own recovery plan, taking into account its specialization and implemented systems. The software should be able to initiate a particular plan for a specific situation.
The main task of any medical software is to work with documents. Since the software helps facilitate documentation processing, many healthcare providers implement such systems in their organizations.
Required principles, which software development organization Archer Software uses in its own projects, for medical software in documentation processing include:
- Strict structure; and
- Secure data storage
HIPAA violation fees are huge. The price of breaking a rule can reach up to $1 million. Reliable data storage, which protects from hacker attacks, will allow organizations to save money and ensure electronic protected health information (ePHI) security.
Managing Relationships with Business Associates
HIPAA-compliant software must also handle the company’s relationships with its business associates, including contractors responsible for managing ePHI. A system must monitor the execution of specific agreements regulated by the Omnibus Rule of HIPAA. This will help healthcare providers ensure the security of PHI while entrusting it to business associates.
It is almost impossible to fully exclude the risk of data breaches in any medical organization. Software must be able to detect those breaches, create a corresponding report and apply preliminary measures to avoid further data “sharing.” It also has to prevent data breaches by blocking the use of portable data storage devices.
HIPAA Compliance Checklist for Software Development
Below is a list of all the necessary elements for HIPAA-compliant software, based on the safeguards listed in the HIPAA Security Rule. The implementation of these elements will allow your software to ensure both ePHI security and privacy.
The necessary features for HIPAA-compliant software include:
- User authorization;
- Access control;
- Authorization monitoring;
- Data backup;
- Remediation plan;
- Emergency mode;
- Automatic log off; and
- Data encryption and decryption.
Now that we’ve covered off the requirements for IT solutions designed for medical organizations, let’s proceed to the aspects of hospital management software development.
Hospital Management System Development
Besides HIPAA rules, custom hospital management systems (HMSs) have to correspond to other internal requirements that will allow medical staff to get as many advantages as possible from using the medical software without compromising patient privacy or data security.
The requirements for HMSs are as follows:
- An HMS has to be comprehensive for any medical employee.
- The UI must be highly informative and laconic.
- The system has to have a user access control based on employee responsibilities.
- An HMS must contain a reliable security system that encrypts stored data.
- The software has to provide functionality for extending or improving clinic automation.
Taking into account the tremendous financial penalties for violation of HIPAA principles, healthcare institutions strive to implement IT systems that fully correspond to the requirements of the Act. That is why software developers have to be aware of new state requirements in the healthcare industry to offer medical organizations convenient IT solutions at a reasonable cost. This is especially crucial for startups just entering this market. This knowledge will allow healthcare providers to get HIPAA compliant software and help IT outsourcing companies grow their business.
About the Author / Adam Edmond
Adam Edmond is a technology writer, interested in the cloud, app and software developing niche. However, he can’t stand mathematics. Edmond has also lead courses in visual effects, animation and digital marketing for both the Western Australia School of Art and Design and Murdoch University. Connect with him directly.