HIPAA Compliance Implications for Mobile Health Information Technology

Flickr - DFID - A female doctor with the Inter...

Int’l Medical Corps MD examines a young boy at a mobile health clinic

A rising trend in current healthcare is mhealth (also known as mobile health, telemedicine or ehealth). Healthcare providers using smartphones and tablet computers collect patient information and send it to physicians or other medical specialists in different locations. Mobile health information technology allows these healthcare providers to more easily and quickly diagnose and monitor the health problems of patients in remote locations. This specialized medical market is currently valued at $1.4 billion and is expected to reach $1.5 trillion by 2019.

While the potential for growth in mobile health information technology is virtually unlimited, maintaining patient privacy is also an important factor. To prevent healthcare providers from sharing too much information about patients, healthcare providers are required to follow regulations established by HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). The HIPAA act, passed by Congress in 1996, protects patients’ privacy, reduces healthcare fraud and abuse, and enables patients to transfer and continue their health insurance coverage when they lose jobs or change jobs.

Protected information under HIPAA includes the patient’s past, present or future physical/mental health conditions, the provision of medical care to a patient, and the past, present or future payment to an individual for healthcare. Healthcare providers also cannot reveal personally identifiable information such as a patient’s name, address, birth date or Social Security Number.

With the expansion of mhealth in the health industry, greater protection for portable mobile data collection devices used in healthcare will be necessary. These smartphones and tablet computers will need a higher level of electronic protection to prevent patients’ information from being compromised, especially when it is in transmission from one network to another or if the mobile device is lost, damaged or stolen.

Ideally, the standards for judging whether or not a mobile health information technology is suitable for mhealth should include answers to these questions:

  • Are specialized medical forms within the system easy to create?
  • Can large amounts of data be easily stored, especially when a computer network is not immediately available to the end user?
  • Does the mobile data collection system work in conjunction with the various operating systems of different mobile devices?
  • Is the information stored within the mobile data collection system secured through user authentication and other security measures?
  • Is the mobile data collection system easy to learn with tutorials and a FAQ (frequently asked questions) section?
  • Can information be easily sent and received?

A mobile health information technology powered by  COMMANDmobile® is particularly suitable for mhealth in underserved and rural areas due to its portability, versatility and security. For more information about mobile health technology using COMMANDmobile’s customizable features, ask for a demo account or contact us for details.

Related links

New HIPAA Omnibus Rule: A Compliance Guide

Public Health Surveillance In Rural Communities Via Mobile Health Data Collection

Mobile Health Communication Trends Of 2013

Healthcare Information Technology Improves Mobile Monitoring and Evaluation

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About DeAnna Davidson

DeAnna Davidson is a proven technologist and business leader who is passionate about the power of mobile computing to revolutionize a business or industry, and dedicated to helping organizations use mobile, wireless, and web technologies to their advantage.

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