Healthcare Industry is growing at an astonishing pace and the usage of technology is also rising to complement the increasing demands of customers and industry. We can witness the usage of Telemedicine, mobile applications, and wearable gadgets, which are enhancing the coverage and utility of healthcare services.
As per the research firm Statista, by the end of the year 2021, the global mobile healthcare market is predicted to reach 100 billion U.S. dollars. It clearly shows the future potential of healthcare mobile applications and Telemedicine. Tele-healthcare solutions such as Doctor on-demand application are growing rapidly, both in demand and popularity.
All the stakeholders such as end-users, doctors, healthcare service providers have understood the potential of Telemedicine and mobile applications, and that is the reason why they are showing their interest and investing heavily in the development of Telemedicine applications, which will certainly revolutionize the way Healthcare industry functions.
However, we need to understand that with more usage of technology the healthcare industry has become highly vulnerable to data theft, cyber-attacks, data misuse, and phishing. The medical and personal data is many times costly than the data of your banking and credit card. The increasing incidents of security breaches, unprofessional health record disposals, and hacking have created a grave concern for the healthcare industry, and that is where HIPAA comes into the picture.
The Healthcare industry deals with sensitive user data, and to ensure adequate security to safeguard the data, the app development for Telemedicine applications must follow HIPAA compliant guidelines. In this article, we will discuss HIPAA compliance and the process of developing a Telemedicine application on the concept of Doctor on Demand.
What is HIPAA Compliance?
Table of Content
- 1 What is HIPAA Compliance?
- 2 Why the HIPAA Compliant is important?
- 3 Mandatory Conditions to consider while Developing a HIPAA complaint App
- 4 How to decide if we need HIPAA Compliant Application?
- 5 What is a Doctor On-Demand App, and why do we need it?
- 6 How does an On-Demand Doctor application work?
- 7 Features of a Doctor On-Demand App?
- 8 How to develop a HIPAA Compliant Telemedicine App?
- 9 Cost to Develop HIPAA Compliant Telemedicine App
- 10 Technology Stack for On-Demand Doctor App development
- 11 Other Medical Compliance and Certifications required for Telemedicine App
- 12 Challenges in Telemedicine App Development process
- 13 Conclusion
- 14 Let the Ideas Roll!
The HIPAA act (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) was enacted in 1996 by the US federal government. HIPAA act ensures that there are no anomalies exist while storing and handling sensitive patient data. HIPAA act is a group of regulations that healthcare and medical service providers must comply with to ensure that patient’s data, charts, records, and accounts are managed properly with utmost privacy and security.
As per the HIPAA act, any healthcare application that records and transmits confidential and protected health information to a physician, hospital, or other healthcare service provider entity must be HIPAA-compliant. The mobile application development organization will be subjected to heavy penalties and legal actions in event of a violation of the HIPAA act. HIPAA act also caters to the provisions, that are related to the taxation in medical expenses, hence if you need to start mobile app development for Healthcare your product must be HIPAA compliant.
Why the HIPAA Compliant is important?
HIPAA is a comprehensive act enacted to help healthcare institutions and patients. Let’s understand its importance from both perspectives:
|Type of action||Details|
|HIPAA for Patients||The stakeholders cannot share or transmit and information without the consent of a patient.||HIPAA acts authorize only healthcare professionals to share confidential and medical information with other entities. Only those entities that are engaged in healthcare operations are covered under the PHI, which ensures a higher level of confidentiality and privacy.|
|All stakeholders must inform the patients if they have observed any sort of data breach.||As a developer, it is important to develop a mobile app with the highest level of privacy controls and security. Under the HIPAA act, the patients are authorized to get copies of their treatment information and medical history. This act allows a seamless and smooth data transfer among multiple healthcare service providers.|
|The Billing and Prescription vendors cannot share patients with other entities.||There are multiple stakeholders and entities during the healthcare process, who access the patient’s data, but they are not authorized to share that information with 3rd party vendors. The onus of safeguarding the confidential data rests on the entities concerned, and this must be ensured while developing a mobile application.|
|HIPAA for Healthcare Service Providers||There must be a common standard and frequent improvisation as far as storage of patient’s data is concerned.||Healthcare entities must follow a standard process of recording and storing the information of patients, this will reduce the scope of misinformation and errors.|
|HIPAA compliance makes it easy for healthcare entities to maintain and store data.||This is quite crucial for Telemedicine mobile application or Hospital CRM software development.|
Mandatory Conditions to consider while Developing a HIPAA complaint App
A HIPAA Compliant mobile application is basically dependent on the following safeguards, and a developer must consider these constraints and make necessary adjustments and provisions in the software design to cater the requirements.
It is mandatory for a HIPAA compliant mobile application to provide adequate data security while sharing, transferring, and storing any medical or patient-related confidential information. Such mobile applications must implement a robust authentication mechanism so that only the intended person could get access to the system and confidential data is not misplaced or compromised under any circumstances.
Here the primary objective is Data encryption, as that is an important aspect while establishing an adequate physical safeguard for mobile applications. The HIPAA compliant mobile application must be designed and developed in a way that automates emergency access, allows instant login and logout mechanism, offers a unique identification number to every patient.
How to decide if we need HIPAA Compliant Application?
This is an important aspect, as we must know when we need to follow the HIPAA compliance and guidelines to develop an application. Here the answer is quite simple, if you want to develop an application, then you must check if the application demands, captures, or tracks the following information, then we need to comply with HIPAA.
- If the application is dealing with PHI, that includes the patient’s health records, medical bills, lab results, that is linked to individual identifiers.
- If the application is intended to store the personal information of the patient.
- If the application tracks the exercise and food habits of the user.
- If the organization and the patient are supposed to exchange the PHI information with each other.
If all these parameters apply to your application, then you must ensure that your application is HIPAA Compliant.
What is a Doctor On-Demand App, and why do we need it?
Doctor on Demand applications is getting massive popularity among people, as such applications offer telemedicine facilities or virtual assistance remotely. We need Doctor on-Demand applications due to the following services they provide :
Availability of Doctors help in remote areas –
Patients who live in remote or rural areas may not able to access the healthcare services normally, hence they can use an on-demand doctor application to take remote consultation with doctors.
24*7 availability of Doctors for elderly and disabled people–
Using the Doctor On-demand application, the elderly and disabled people can avail the required treatment at any time, any day, without having to travel to far-off places and spending huge money.
Easy access to the specialized medical experts –
On-demand applications provide services of licensed doctors with any specialty. Patients can contact psychiatrists, psychologists, pediatricians, or any other medical expert as per their requirements.
No need for long travel times and Wait times –
Due to on-demand applications, the patients won’t need to wait for hours or travel long distances, with a risk of being exposed to infections or germs to get medical assistance. For example, amid the COVID pandemic, the on-demand applications prevent the risk of infection, human contact while providing the best available medical consultation and treatment.
Instant Diagnosis and Prescriptions –
Doctor on-demand application allows the patients to connect with the doctors remotely via video call. Doctors can perform the diagnosis steps and share the prescriptions with them instantly.
Attract New and Retain existing patients –
Doctor on-demand application can help a healthcare service provider to attract new patients, retain existing patients, which ultimately implies higher revenue.
Reduced Administrative work –
Such applications reduce Administrative tasks, Paperwork, and Time as well.
Offers flexible work-life balance for Doctors –
Doctor’s life is not easy and they usually struggle to maintain the work-life balance. However, the Doctor on-demand type of applications makes it easy for them to offer treatment to their patient and reduce unnecessary stress in their life.
How does an On-Demand Doctor application work?
Here is how the On-Demand Doctor application work:
- Doctor and Physician registrations and profile creation, where they can describe their expertise, experience, and specialization.
- Application Administrators verify the credentials of doctors based on the given documents and other artifacts.
- Patients or Users can register themselves via their mobile or email information.
- Patients and Users can create profiles and update the necessary information and medical history.
- Users can search for doctors based on their health problems and doctor’s specialization.
- Patients can contact the Doctors, schedule an appointment.
- Consultation with a doctor via video call and documents exchange.
- The doctor can share the Digital prescription via the application.
- Users can make online payments to their respective doctors via secure payment gateway services.
Features of a Doctor On-Demand App?
A standard Doctor On-Demand app is bifurcated into three basic components (Patient panel, Doctor panel, and Administrator panel). It offers the following features.
Patient Panel Features
|Email Signup/Login||Patients can register, create profile and then login to the app|
|In-app Chat or Video Call||In order to take consultation with Doctor, patients can initiate Chat or Video calls|
|Search||Patients can search for doctors as per their specialization, experience, location, and availability.|
|Appointment or Home Visit Schedule||Patients can book an appointment or home visit|
|Real-Time Doctor Tracking||To track the doctor while he is visiting patient’s home|
|Loyalty Programs||To avail different offers and discounts|
|Payment Gateway||Patients can make payment against the services they avail|
Doctor Panel Features
|Email Signup/Login||Doctors can register, create profile, and then Login to the app|
|Accept or Reject an appointment||Doctors can accept or reject the appointment request as per their availability|
|Appointment Status||To check and update the appointment status|
|Prescription Tracker||Doctors can prepare and share the prescription with the patients|
|Chat or Video Call||Doctors can initiate a chat or video calls with patients|
|Patient progression chart||Doctors can check the progress of patients|
|Reports||Daily, Weekly, Monthly or Annual report to assess the status of performance|
|Real-time tracking||To keep a track of doctor’s location|
|Earning Status||Doctors can check their earnings|
|Profile verification and approval||To verify the authenticity of the submitted profile of a Doctor and then approve it|
|Patient Management||To manage, edit, delete the records of patients|
|Doctor Management||To manage, edit, delete the records of Doctors|
|Notification Management||To manage several notifications|
|Real-time analytics||To check the usage pattern of application with the help of various dashboards|
|Reports||To create daily, weekly, monthly, and annual reports|
|Financial Management||To track the financial performance of the application, which may help in taking strategic decisions.|
|CMS for healthcare-related news and articles||This area contains articles and news related to healthcare, diseases awareness, and other health tips.|
HIPAA Specific Features
|Data Encryption||Data Encryption is a critical feature of Telemedicine applications. Usually, the sharing of data via emails is not allowed, as that is not encrypted. It doesn’t matter if the data is at-rest or it is stored on Cloud Server, it needs to be encrypted.|
|User Identification||A HIPAA compliant application cannot allow a user log in to the application via email. We must implement a Password or PIN for user authentication, we can also use Smart key, Smart card, or Biometric identification to make it more robust. We may have to make adequate feature provisioning in our application to accommodate these features.|
|Emergency Access||It is usual to have service disruption during any emergency or natural calamity. However, according to the HIPAA act, user’s access to the data must continue under all situations. We must implement adequate Backup/Restore and Disaster Recovery steps to ensure uninterrupted data access to the users in event of any adverse condition.|
|Data Transit Encryption||Use services like Google Cloud or AWS run Transport Layer Security 1.2, which encrypt the data during transmission. We need to put multiple technical safeguard (as suggested by The Department of Health and Human Services) to address authentication, encryption, and identification specifications. |
It is also important to implement end-to-end encryption with TLS for inbound or outbound packets, that fortifies the AES encryption.
Latest Technologies to Integrate into Your Doctor On-Demand App
AI and ML –
AI and ML integration in the application can provide enormous benefits to the users and doctors. The technologies should be incorporated into your application to capture and analyze the patient data to determine their medical history trending, how their body is reacting to a specific condition, and potentially effective treatment that can be administered.
5G Technology –
5G offers way better network speed than the existing 4G, and it can make it easy for application users to utilize several features, which will ensure the success of the app in long run.
Virtual Reality –
Virtual Reality is a revolutionary technology that can help doctors to treat patients with anxiety disorders, loneliness, and other depressing situation by transmitting them into a virtual world, and assess their reaction to various adverse situations, which ultimately help the doctors to administer the correct treatment.
It can bring the power of decentralization in the Telemedicine application, which will make the entire system more transparent and authentic while speeding up the internal processes.
Augmented Reality –
This will enable the doctors to introduce augmented elements within the real world, which will help them to streamline their treatment strategy and processes, which ultimately improves customer satisfaction up to a great level.
Voice search –
Introducing the voice search technology into the Telemedicine application is certainly a good idea, as most of the users prefer to perform voice search while using the applications. Hence, this feature will only enhance customer engagement and usage.
How to develop a HIPAA Compliant Telemedicine App?
We must follow the below process to develop HIPAA compliant Telemedicine application.
Step-1: Evaluate your App Idea – To develop a successful application, we must understand the needs of the doctors as well as patients, and then we must evaluate the idea of the application and its benefits as well. We must perform some market study to find out the bottlenecks in the current processes, challenges of doctors, patients, and healthcare service providers.
Step-2: Ask Developers for Quotations – In this step, we must provide the maximum information about our idea to the developers, which will help them to understand the business logic, various constraints, and other information to develop the application.
Step-3: Develop an MVP for Telemedicine Platform – We must provide the project brief and then sign an NDA. The Business analyst along with the Project manager will share the list of important app features for the MVP and then develop the project prototypes, and mock-ups to showcase the overall feel of the proposed application.
Step-4: Application Development Phase – Once the MVP project scope is defined, we will break the application features into small stories and then conduct the Scrum meetings to engage with several stakeholders for software development. The software development team will start developing the code, examine it, test, and fix the code errors.
Step-5: Approve the App’s demonstration – Once the MVP version is developed, the software development will demonstrate the project and showcase the outcome of the application. If the outcomes are as per expectations then the software development team will upload the MVP to the application marketplace, while it will keep on applying other advanced features in the background.
Step-6: App introduction in App Marketplaces – Once the additional features are applied as per the project scope, the development team will conduct the final product demonstration, provide project-related info, project mock-ups, incorporating designs, databases, and access to the various application marketplaces and app stores.
Cost to Develop HIPAA Compliant Telemedicine App
The cost of developing a HIPAA compliant Telemedicine application is very much dependent on the hourly rates of the team you are going to hire. This is the basic reason why most of the western countries outsource their projects to Asian countries like India. Here we have a comparison of average hourly rates in different regions.
|Region||Price Range||Average Price (Per Hour)|
|United Kingdom||$80 to $180||$120|
So here it is quite visible that the application development cost of HIPAA compliant Telemedicine application cost in USA and UK is quite expensive, whereas the cost is way lower in India, South American countries. It is recommended to outsource the app development work to these countries, as they can offer the same product quality at fraction of the cost.
Now, let’s see how many days it takes to develop different app features.
|Feature||Days min||Days max|
|In-app Chat or Video Call||5||10|
|Appointment or Home Visit Schedule||3||6|
|Real-Time Doctor Tracking||1||4|
|Accept or Reject an appointment||2||8|
|Patient progression chart||2||4|
|CMS and Blog||5||10|
|Profile verification and approval||2||5|
This is indeed a rough estimate, but still, it gives an insight into the cost and efforts to develop a successful online Shopping application. However, this does not cover other costs and efforts, such as project preparation, time spent on communication, project release, and several other supporting activities during the shopping app development process.
Technology Stack for On-Demand Doctor App development
The selection of a Technology stack for Doctor On-demand application totally depends on the project complexity and application requirements. We can utilize the following Technology stack to develop an MVP rapidly:
- Backend Development – Laravel, Django
- Frontend Development – Vue.js, React
- Mobile development – React Native, Flutter
- Database – MySQL, AWS Redis
- Logging Controls and Checks – AWS CloudTrail, AWS Config, AWS Resource Inventory
- Monitoring and Log Maintenance – AWS CloudWatch
- Storage & Backup Technology – Amazon S3
Other Medical Compliance and Certifications required for Telemedicine App
Though we are putting more emphasis on HIPAA compliance, there are other acts and certifications, that are must to comply for any Telemedicine application
- Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
- HL7 (Health Level 7 International)
- MU-1 and MU-2 (Meaningful Use Stage 1 and 2
- EPCS Certification (Electronic Prescription for Controlled Substance)
- EPA (Electronic Prior Authorization) Integration
Challenges in Telemedicine App Development process
We may face the following challenges while developing a Telemedicine application
Backend Framework –
The performance of the Backend Framework is certainly the biggest challenge, which may diminish the user experience. Though we can integrate some 3rd party services or tools to cover this gap, though it is necessary to perform adequate research and read the 3rd party services documentation to prevent any sort of issues later.
HIPAA Compliance –
HIPAA compliance is a critical success factor for any Telemedicine application, and we must take adequate steps to follow the act religiously and take technical, physical steps to comply with it.
User Interface and User Experience –
The application layout, navigation, and frontend logic must be designed to keep the target user requirements in mind. The better UI will certainly offer a better experience to the user and it may result in user engagement.
Data Security –
The primary objective of Telemedicine is to ensure utmost security to the patient data, medical records, and other confidential data. It is important to put adequate checks and controls to ensure data storage, exchange, and processing remain secure. We can also use multi-factor authentication or biometric identification to fortify the security of application. We must use RSA and AES encryption algorithms with strong keys to ensure enough security during data exchange.
PHI disposal –
It is certainly the biggest challenge to dispose-off the archived and backup PHI data which have expired. We must design measures to dispose-off all the unused data in non-retrievable and safe manner.
Since the COVID pandemic struck, the healthcare sector is among the very few sectors which saw a massive transformation due to the introduction of multiple advanced technologies. However, we can envision a massive shift towards compliance adherence soon.
Amid such times, developing a HIPAA compliant telemedicine application is an excellent idea, which can ensure a wonderful entry into the lucrative healthcare space. HIPAA compliance outlines the mandatory principles, implementation specifications, and safeguard methods that software must comply with to ensure adequate security and privacy of electronically protected health information (ePHI).
We hope this blog must be very beneficial to you in understanding the importance of HIPAA compliance and the development process of doctor on-demand mobile app. However, it is very much understood that you might be having certain queries about the app development process, budget, or market analysis. We will be glad to assist you with all your queries.
Satyam Chaturvedi is a Digital Marketing Strategist at Arka Softwares, a leading mobile app development company dealing in modern and futuristic web and mobile app solutions. He loves to spend his time in studying the market trends and helping startups and enterprises in achieving their business goals.