The world is rapidly adopting digital modes of communication in present times. Almost all businesses are focusing on building chat apps to carry out their in-house communications smoothly and enhance customer experiences. And the healthcare sector is also doing the same to make patient care equitably accessible across the world. A good chat platform helps healthcare professionals to instantly connect with their patients from anywhere and at any time. But one thing that needs to be take care of is the security of all kinds of chat data. Developing a HIPAA and PHI-compliant app can help you secure data? Are you planning to build a chat platform of your own? Great! In this article, we are going to discuss ensuring HIPAA compliant chat and PHI compliance for your chat platform. Stay with us and read on!
What are HIPAA and PHI?
Before digging into the compliance details, let us first understand the definitions of HIPAA and PHI. Let’s look at them closely one by one.
Meaning of HIPAA
The word HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. It was sign into law in 1996. It sets the guidelines for the protection of sensitive patient data. HIPAA compliance is regulate by the Department of Health and Human Services and enforced by the Office of Civil Rights.
HIPAA applies to HIPAA-covered entities and their business associates. Covered entities can be described as individuals or entities that transmit protected health information including the transmission of healthcare claims, payment and remittance advice, and much more.
On the other hand, a business associate can be defined as an individual or company that offers services to HIPAA-covered entities. They can be third-party administrators, billing companies, consultants, attorneys, and others.
Meaning of PHI
PHI stands for Protected Health Information. It could be either a physical record or an electronic record. It can be described as any kind of health data that is created, stored, received, or transmitted by HIPAA-covered entities and their business associates.
A Detailed Guide to Develop a Live Chat HIPAA Compliant App
Thinking to develop a HIPAA-compliant chat app? We have got your back! In this section, we are going to discuss some of the important aspects revolving around HIPAA and PHI compliance for live chat apps.
1. Make sure your HIPAA chat app is hosted on the relevant data center
Third-party HIPAA compliant chat software providers may host secure HIPAA data centers in multiple locations. You can opt for the data center closest to your location.
2. Prepare your HIPAA compliant chat window
When you develop a modern chat app using a third-party HIPAA compliant online chat software, it may allow customers to send transcripts to any email addresses that they provide. Since relevant sharing of data is involved, HIPAA and PHI compliance is needed. Well, in order to ensure the same, you need to take care of certain things and keep in mind the following steps:
- Go to the customization section of your chat window settings.
- In the list, go to the section that says ‘Let customers get chat transcripts’ and make sure to switch it off.
- That’s it! Now, you have successfully secured HIPAA-compliant chat options.
3.Steps to make HIPAA chat compliance for healthcare professionals
When developing a HIPAA compliant live chat HIPAA compliant app , you need to make sure that all your patients’ medical data is secured and protected. Carefully read through the following important steps that will help you to keep your patient data protected.
- Make sure to set up automatic transcription deletion once you reach the end of any conversation with your patient. This can be ensured by setting up a webhook that would fire every time a patient finishes the chat with your healthcare professional. All you need to do is go to the webhook section of your integrations section. There you would get an option to add a webhook button. You will be provided with a list of available options. From that list, you need to choose ‘chat ends’ as your webhook event. Chat, visitor, and pre-chat survey will be your webhook data type. To finalize, you need to click on the ‘add a webhook’ button.
- The next thing that you need to check is what integrations your chat is linked with. Now, your app may have options to integrate your license with different third-party software. But this would mean that you’ll be sharing medical data with software that is not HIPAA and PHI compliant. need to avoid such situations. You should consider checking whether the integration installed on your license is a native integration or integration created with the use of webhook. You might go ahead and disable it.
- Go to your ‘marketplace’ option. Choose the ‘installed’ section. Check which integrations are not HIPAA compliant. You can delete those from your account. All you need to do is click the uninstall button.
- The next step is to ensure that the storage of chat transcripts is automate on your server. It helps you take command over how your customers’ medical data shall be processed once the chat communication has been finished. You may use the transcripts forwarding feature.
- Another important step that you need to take is to limit access to your application. Maybe, you can prepare a list of IP addresses that can access the application. Go to the access restriction section of your app. In that, go for using specific IP addresses. With a list of preferred IP addresses, you can protect HIPAA compliance for your app.
- Set up a strong password for your application. The password should contain at least 6 signs with a mix of special characters, lower case, upper case, and numbers. You can also select advanced login methods for your app. One of the best ways to do that is a two-step verification with Google or a single sign-on. Go to the 2-step verification section of your security settings. Then, you need to click on the ‘Login with Google’ button to link your chat application with your Google Account. You can, now, select ‘use Google account with 2-step verification’ to log in. Click on ‘save changes’ and you are all set.
Make sure to sign BAA for your HIPAA website chat and mobile app
BAA refers to Business Associate Agreement. As per HIPAA privacy rule, all covered entities need to sign BAA with any business associate that they hire and have the chance of engaging with Public Health Information. A written contract is sign between the covered entity and business associate that establishes the permitte disclosures of public health information. Hence, if you are planning to build a HIPAA-compliant chat app, you need to make sure that you sign the Business Associate Agreement.
We hope our article helped you understand the important aspects revolving around HIPAA and PHI compliance. In today’s virtual times, it is essential that you build reliable, scalable, and secure healthcare applications that can efficiently protect sensitive medical data. HIPAA compliance can help you attain maximum security for your data. So, wait no more! Design a secure application for your entity today and boost your work functionalities. Our best wishes for all your future endeavors.