Healthcare software is an essential tool for many medical facilities, but they must stick to certain requirements like HIPAA guidelines. Security in healthcare has become a significant concern recently, given the increased sensitivity of patients’ information. Let’s look at some of the biggest requirements that you need to know about when it comes to healthcare software.
Related: Predictive Analytics in Healthcare
What is Healthcare Software?
Healthcare software, or health information technology software, is a blanket term encompassing multiple categories of software that helps healthcare providers to manage their practices and patients. This software gets used in a medical setting to collect data about individual patients’ health for long-term studies, short-term diagnoses, and overall future reference. Healthcare software can be found in every medical and healthcare sector, including labs, pharmacies, physical rehabilitation centers, and mental health facilities.
HIPAA Compliance and Certification
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, more commonly referred to as HIPAA, was adopted by the U.S. Congress in 1996. Back then, the internet and healthcare had nothing in common, and talking about electronic medical records and HIPAA as mutually related concepts didn’t really mean anything. However, HIPAA features have changed over the years, and there are a myriad of guidelines that you must follow to use healthcare software and remain HIPAA compliant. Here are the important points relating to HIPAA compliance and healthcare software:
Healthcare software must aid medical organizations in obtaining control over their information access modes. While end-users can control who has access to information and when they can access it, the access control requirements must be met with specific attention.
According to the Technical Safeguard Standard, as a part of HIPAA’s Administrative Simplification Security Rule, four essential features must be incorporated into healthcare software’s access control. These are:
- Personnel or role-based authorization
- Emergency access
- Unique user I.D. patterns
- Automatic log-off
For example, a nurse might not have the same level of access to a patient’s PHI that doctors would. At the same time, doctors might not have access to the same information regarding a patient’s solvency as the facility’s administrator would.
The HITECH Act from 2009 fixed some loopholes in the HIPAA guidelines regarding the development of health I.T. regulations. The act made external audits mandatory for all healthcare software to ensure that the software is compliant with HIPAA regulations regarding the safety of patients’ information.
As a result, for a healthcare software product to meet HIPAA compliance requirements, it must have a logging infrastructure that doesn’t resist regulatory guidelines. The software you use must bring with it evidence of compliance.
Centralized Identity Management
Defining a user’s identity and authorizing them is another requirement that healthcare software must meet to stay compliant with HIPAA guidelines. The software must have a way to track users’ logins, log-offs, sessions, activity, and profile changes. These security measures aren’t meant to hinder user experience but rather to ensure the security of their information. Inefficient healthcare software can lead to some lamentable consequences. For example, doctors must have the ability to access files that they need quickly, as there may be a critical decision pending related to information that’s in the healthcare software system.
Data Transmission Security
While HIPAA doesn’t request a specific measure regarding data transmission security, the HITECH act clearly lays out some requirements. Ensuring that data transmission occurs securely is an essential practice for modern healthcare software systems; it prevents unauthorized users from accessing electronically transmitted data, which is a requirement for HIPAA compliance. This means building healthcare software with SSL and TLS certification to ensure the secure transmission of data.
PHI and Sensitive Data Encryption & Decryption
HIPAA also doesn’t directly require software to encrypt PHI, but reassuring clients that their patient data is encrypted and secure is essential for any healthcare software provider. Regardless of whether the data is in transit or at rest, encrypting it with a purpose-design approach will prevent the probable cases of losing patient data, reducing the likelihood of financial risks and liabilities. All of the healthcare software system’s data must be encrypted and decrypted by only authorized users with the corresponding digital keys.
While the complete list of HIPAA requirements is much more extensive, and the applicable guidelines are based on the specific properties of individual healthcare software platforms, following these essential rules will help you stay in compliance.
Telemedicine & Patient Portals
Telemedicine and patient portals are two of the main reasons that patients and providers alike rely on healthcare software.
Telemedicine gives patients and providers a way to communicate with each other and devise treatment plans without the need to meet in person. Telemedicine, also commonly referred to as telehealth services, involves providing health care, assessments, and consultation remotely. From in-home visits and mobile health care to online video chat appointments, telehealth lets physicians communicate with their patients to provide proper treatment without being in the same room or even the same country.
Telemedicine comes with many benefits, including:
- Online appointments
- Instant messaging
- Real-time video chats
- Notifications and reminders
- Remote patient monitoring
One of the most significant benefits of patient portals is the encouragement for the patient to have more involvement in their health and treatment plans. Patients can view their medical history, register for appointments, see their past and current prescriptions, and pay their bills through the portal. Additionally, many patient portals allow patients to communicate with their doctor through messages or video calls. Rather than scheduling an appointment for every small occurrence, patients can talk with their physician from their own homes. Patient portals allow physicians and their patients to work together on their health plans and treatment progress.
Patient portals come with benefits like:
- Appointment scheduling
- Alerts and notifications
- Lab results
- Medical history
- Patient-physician messaging
- Treatment plans
Let Alternova Help
Healthcare software can bring many benefits to healthcare providers and their patients, but it’s essential to maintain compliance and keep your organization’s and patients’ data safe and secure.
Design your custom healthcare software with Alternova to engage with your patients and reliably and securely process and store all of your data.
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