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How Knack can Help you Build a HIPAA Compliant App
Written By: admin
- February 16, 2023
Learn how to make an app HIPAA compliant with Knack: secure, no-code solutions for healthcare, legal, and business data management and protection. From data management to custom CRMs, Knack provides a secure back-end environment so that you can be sure you’re protecting your patients.
What is HIPAA?
Anyone who provides treatment, payment, or operations in healthcare, as well as anyone who has access to protected health information (PHI) or provides support in treatment, payment, or operations in healthcare, is subject to the requirements of the US law, HIPAA. These covered entities and business associates are responsible for ensuring their compliance with the law. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide advice on whether or not an individual or organization needs to be HIPAA-compliant, but we can help you build a HIPAA-compliant app.
What Can a HIPPA-Compliant App Be Used for in Healthcare?
Healthcare, business, and law professionals are using Knack functionality to stay HIPAA compliant through a variety of use cases.
Patient Data Management and Online Databases
There are many healthcare professionals who are still working off of spreadsheets for data management. Spreadsheets are wonky, don’t always show realtime data, and won’t integrate with the rest of your automated workflows. By building an online database with Knack, you can be sure that private information like birth date, illnesses, credit card information, and more are kept secure.
In this digital age, patients expect their healthcare provider to offer a patient portal web app. Patient portals allow patients to schedule appointments, send notifications for reminders, get their FAQs answered in a secure environment, and get healthcare news all in the same app.
Knack is ideal for building HIPAA compliant patient portals due to our secure user login functionality, multi-factor authentication requirements, protected servers, user-friendly formats, and more.
With no-code to low-code development, Knack customers are building their own HIPAA compliant CRMs at a fraction of the cost of more common CRMs. Healthcare professionals who want to take their online database one step further can develop it into a full-scale CRM, meaning better workflows and streamlined processes.
Inventory management is a use case we often see built out as an expansion of a provider’s custom CRM or online database. It can be difficult to run a full-scale medical office, but inventory management can help you. Plus, instead of using different systems for patient management and inventory management, you can store everything in Knack.
Knack also has a variety of integrations when leveraging Zapier or Make, so that you can plug your Knack app right into your workflow and other automations. Our API is made so that you can keep building your app to fit any need you may have.
HIPAA Compliance Regulations for Patient Data (PHI)
Knack customers who wish to store PHI in their applications must ensure they are HIPAA compliant. As per HIPAA regulations, Knack is the Business Associate and the customer is the Covered Entity. To ensure the PHI is properly protected, both parties must abide by the explicitly defined terms, policies, and security measures set forth by HIPAA. This relationship is governed by a Business Associate Agreement (“BAA”).
Some key components of the BAA include outlining the following:
- Knack’s compliance with HIPAA standards as outlined by the Federal Department of Health and Human Services.
- Knack’s obligations and activities with regards to PHI, including security safeguards and breach reporting.
- Knacks’ permitted uses and disclosures with regards to PHI.
- Your obligations and requirements as a Covered Entity.
What Makes Knack Plans HIPAA-compliant?
Knack values the security of our customers’ data as sacred. We’ve built our platform to safeguard Knack users from hacking or data leaks.
- HIPAA-only hosting on a security-enhanced infrastructure in Amazon’s cloud that meets the strictest government security requirements (GovCloud)
- Additional logging and auditing around all data access
- End-to-end data encryption
- Minimum password requirements in the Builder and Live Application
- Inactivity timeout – automatic logout after 15 minutes of inactivity in the Builder
- Live App force HTTPS redirect – all communication between your browser and the website is encrypted
We have internal policies that cover the key topics required for HIPAA compliant app development, including accounting of disclosures, incident response, identity and access management, and so forth.
“Logging” refers to tracking and documenting events that happen in software. Logging can happen to document errors, but it also helps developers of all skill levels keep track of changes being made. Knack focuses on logging for securiy by:
- Logging to monitor activity by internal users (Note: all logging is for internal use only.)
- Logon successes and failures
- Password changes
- Additions/deletions/changes to user and/or group access
- Logon attempts for disabled, service, system and non-existing accounts
- VPN activity
- System and application crashes, shutdowns, restarts, and critical errors
- Additions/changes/deletions to network services
- Changes to system and other key files
- Application installs and updates
- Database backups
HIPAA Compliance Checklist
HIPAA compliance is essential for any organization handling protected health information (PHI). Remaining HIPAA compliant safeguards patient privacy and strengthens the trust between patients and healthcare providers.
Achieving HIPAA compliance requires a comprehensive approach to data handling and security. Below are some best practices that organizations should implement and regularly review to maintain compliance with HIPAA regulations:
Implement Strong User Authentication
Implementing robust user authentication mechanisms is essential to protecting sensitive health information. Strong user authentication mechanisms include strong password policies, multi-factor authentication, and ensuring that only authorized personnel can access PHI. User authentication is the first line of defense against unauthorized access, making it an indispensable component of HIPAA compliance.
Ensure Data Encryption
Encrypting data at rest and in transit is a fundamental requirement under HIPAA. Encryption transforms sensitive information into a format that can be deciphered only with a key, significantly reducing the risk of data breaches. Organizations must employ strong encryption standards to protect PHI, whether it’s stored on-site, in the cloud, or being transmitted over the internet.
Perform Regular Security Audits
Regular security audits are essential for identifying vulnerabilities and assessing the effectiveness of current security measures. These audits should comprehensively review all systems and processes that handle PHI to ensure they meet HIPAA’s security requirements. The findings from these audits can guide improvements and strengthen overall data protection strategies.
Access Control Measures
Access control measures are critical for ensuring that only authorized individuals can access or modify PHI. These measures include establishing procedures for granting access rights, monitoring logins and activities, and controlling access based on user roles. Effective access control is vital for minimizing the risk of unauthorized data exposure and ensuring compliance with HIPAA regulations.
Secure Data Storage
Organizations must ensure that PHI is stored in a secure environment, either digitally or physically. This involves using secure servers, implementing firewall protections, and ensuring physical security measures are in place for paper records. Secure data storage practices are essential for protecting against unauthorized access and ensuring the integrity of patient information.
Develop a Breach Notification Plan
A comprehensive breach notification plan is a crucial aspect of HIPAA compliance. This plan should outline the procedures for responding to data breaches, including notifying affected individuals, the Department of Health and Human Services, and, in some cases, the media. A well-developed breach notification plan can significantly mitigate the impact of a data breach and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.
Conduct Risk Assessments Regularly
Regular risk assessments are vital to identify potential vulnerabilities in the handling of PHI and to evaluate the overall effectiveness of the current security measures.
Regular risk assessments help organizations defend against emerging threats and comprehensively address all aspects of PHI protection. Taking a proactive approach to identifying and mitigating risks enables organizations to uphold their compliance with HIPAA and safeguard patient information more effectively.
Maintain an Updated Training Program
An ongoing training program for all employees who handle PHI is essential for maintaining HIPAA compliance. This training should cover organizational policies and procedures related to HIPAA, emerging cybersecurity threats, and best practices for protecting sensitive information. Regular updates and training sessions ensure staff can respond appropriately to potential security incidents.
Implement Device and Media Controls
Organizations must have strict controls over devices and media that contain PHI, including procedures for their use, disposal, and re-use. These controls include ensuring that all electronic devices and media (e.g., laptops, USB drives, hard drives) are encrypted, tracking their movements, and securely wiping data before disposal or reassignment. These controls help prevent unauthorized access to PHI through lost, stolen, or improperly disposed of devices and media.
Ensure Business Associate Compliance
Business associates and third-party vendors with access to PHI must also comply with HIPAA regulations. Establishing agreements that clearly outline the responsibilities of each party regarding the handling and protection of PHI is essential. Regularly reviewing and monitoring these agreements ensures that business associates maintain the required level of security and compliance.
Develop and Implement Privacy Policies
Beyond the security of PHI, HIPAA also emphasizes the importance of privacy. Organizations should develop and implement privacy policies that address the use, disclosure, and rights of individuals concerning their PHI. These policies should be regularly reviewed and updated to reflect changes in regulations or organizational practices, ensuring that patient privacy is always respected and protected.
Incident Response Plan
A detailed incident response plan is vital for effectively addressing security incidents and potential breaches of PHI. This plan should outline the steps to take in the event of an incident, including the initial response, investigation, mitigation strategies, and communication protocols. A well-prepared incident response plan can significantly reduce the impact of a breach and help maintain compliance with HIPAA regulations.