5 Essential Tips for Developing a Secure Healthcare Mobile App

Local regulations. HIPAA compliancy. Encryption. MFA. Learn why all of these matter when it comes to adding security to your healthcare mobile product.

April 18, 2018
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The healthcare industry is developing fast, and so are healthcare related technologies. More and more modern doctors are using special software or mobile applications to communicate with their patients, set appointments or provide recommendations. It is so easy nowadays, because there are billions of mobile devices used across the world, and it has become the most convenient way to connect with anyone, anywhere. To use medical apps successfully, however, doctors should be confident that their applications of choice are well protected and safe for use. This is why building secure mobile apps for healthcare is so important.

Whether you represent a development company or a medical facility, you should know the rules essential for the industry. The most important of them are related to security and data protection, as all healthcare information is highly confidential.

So, whatever you are up to, remember to keep all personal data private at all times and with no exceptions.

It is clear that, with all the disruptions and constant new development of hacker techniques, there is simply no way to be absolutely sure of any “unbreakable” shield to hide the information. Rest assured, though, that there are ways to maximize confidence in this area and build a secure mobile medical app that is likely to satisfy the needs of the market. Here we suggest five tips that can come in handy once you start thinking about medical app development.

1. Find out what regulations your medical app should meet

The medical industry is among those that are constantly influenced by technological advancements. At the same time, for obvious reasons, it remains strongly regulated by government and legal organizations. Countless laws and policies regulate the way data should be handled; however, these regulations vary for different regions and departments.

Here are some examples of certifications that may be required. If medical personnel use the application to transmit patient data that is sensitive, it is likely that there are quite a lot of compliance questions you need to answer before the app can be deployed and used publicly.

Here are the examples of data that is usually protected by particular regulations in most countries around the world:

If your medical application has to deal with any of the above mentioned types of data, you need to be prepared and implement the necessary protection. Basically, researching regulations is an important part of secure mobile medical app development.

Before people will be able to use your product, it has to be authorized by appropriate governmental legislation. The sooner you start thinking about it, the more chances you have to build a safe medical solution.

2. Reflect on the importance of encryption for medical mobile app security

When developers deploy an app and users start using it, it should be based on trust between the parties. When it comes to sensitive health related data, it is essential that patients don’t hold back any important details from medical facilities or representatives due to lack of trust, when using those apps. Confidentiality is key in such relationships. So, in order to create a secure mobile app for hospitals, the developer has to ensure security for all stakeholders. One of the best ways of doing this is to use encryption. It can protect:

Encryption can scramble all the data in such a way that nobody can ever read it, and it is quite difficult, if at all possible, to decipher this data unless you have authorized access to it. The procedure can be performed for both outgoing and incoming data, which supplies a good level of protection. Even if somebody manages to steal the information from the company or user, they are not likely to actually lay eyes on it while it’s encrypted.

To decipher this scrambled data, which is also called ciphertext, the encryption code is needed. Only care facilities and patients may be authorized to obtain this code. There are special protocols such as Secure Socket Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) that are used for data encryption, ensuring complete privacy for both patients and medical organizations that participate in the process.

3. Make sure your medical app is HIPAA compliant

To successfully enter the market of medical applications, it is essential to know about compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). To be protected from any interruptions, software companies working in the healthcare industry should stay in sync with all the requirements and regulations of this act to eliminate any possibilities of data leakage. Developing HIPAA compliant healthcare mobile apps is becoming a priority these days.

We have developed a healthcare mobile app that represents an integrated solution for different specialists that work with people affected by hearing loss, autism, etc. The core idea behind the app was to add even more convenience to interactions between the CentralReach platform and their clients. The first thing considered was the healthcare mobile app HIPAA compliance; however, it was essential to combine it with user-friendly design, clarity and simplicity of use.

Developing a mobile medical app according to HIPAA may not be the simplest task, but, in combination with good design, it’s very rewarding in terms of gaining the trust of your potential customers and achieving further success for the application that is being developed.

4. Use multi-factor authentication

To develop a truly secure healthcare mobile app, it is important to not only pay attention to government regulations, but also keep the data protected on a slightly lower level, such as personal account authentication. To protect personal accounts of a patient from any sort of unauthorized entry, multi-factor authentication (MFA) can be successfully used. It requires separate pieces of evidence that prove the identity of a user before he/she is given access to the account. It is usually represented by a password and some other component that can include voice identification, fingerprint, retinal scanning or even a good old text message with a secret code to verify the entry.

There are different methods of multi-factor authentication, and it is difficult to say which one is the most suitable for healthcare mobile apps. Each method may have advantages and disadvantages. Developing an application, you should analyze various aspects such as functionality or usability to make sure that the most appropriate one ensures the proper level of protection.

Multi-factor authentication isn’t only an outstanding protection technique, but also a way of showing patients that you care about the safety of their precious data. It’s always a good start to show care and respect right from the get-go.

5. Be ready to fight against possible threats

As mentioned above, not only have healthcare techniques become more advanced, but so have the techniques of hackers and malicious attackers. They are after sensitive data as it may be sold back for significant sums. No medical company or patient ever wants to deal with this issue. This is why implementing all the necessary precautions is essential to pay attention to during testing.

There are different types of attackers that you should be aware of. Some hackers can infiltrate systems and get hold of information through that infiltration. Closing the gaps to prevent all vulnerabilities is a must. There are also attackers known as social engineers who use human weaknesses to get access to their information – sometimes referred to as ‘phishing.’

Knowing what kind of dangers are out there may help you build a well-protected medial app. Even if a patient was about to release private information due to their own vulnerability or misunderstanding, your app can prevent it which is a huge bonus that can increase your credibility in the corresponding markets. So, make sure that attackers have no chance with your healthcare application.

The whole healthcare system is constantly changing and reshaping itself, along with the new software and applications built for the industry. These changes are usually required, so developing genuine products is timely and a reality now; however, the main need remains the same – to provide healthcare providers and their clients with a more secure and more convenient method of connection.

This is why all developers need to understand what should be protected under government regulations or simply through the rules and practices of common sense. Pay attention to the region you are creating an app for, as well as the potential audience and types of data that will be transferred and kept there.

Taking into consideration all the details is not easy, as healthcare is usually complicated. It takes time to research and find all the necessary information on the legal side; however, the result of having a popular healthcare app is worth the efforts.

If you need to build a secure mobile medical app and want it to be easy to use and secure, we will be happy to help you at EGO cms. We know the healthcare industry, and we know the best ways to ensure a proper level of security and all the required regulations compliance for your project.

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