How to choose a HIPAA compliant chat API

Anton Dyachenko
Anton Dyachenko
24 Jul 2020

Ensuring the data is protected from compromising to any unauthorized access is essential regardless of the industry. However, the healthcare sector is one of the most sensitive compared to others. Although healthcare chat apps are advancing the medical industry’s complete communication, health care practices need a secure way to efficiently interact with their patients using technology in compliance with industry standards and regulations. It faces the need for HIPAA compliant messaging software for competent communication between physician and patient, or between healthcare professionals for dynamic cross-clinical connection.

QuickBlox has a rich experience in developing healthcare and telemedicine apps. Our HIPAA compliant software solutions enable the privacy and security of patient’s data and medical treatment providers with secure in-app messaging across platforms. In this post, we want to share some useful tips to consider when building a healthcare app with communication features, like messaging or video conferencing.

What is HIPAA?

HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 that can affect every aspect of your business. It is a complex law that sets standards for safeguarding patient protected health information. Companies providing treatment, payment, or services in healthcare, who have access to patient information, must meet HIPAA compliance, always ensuring PHI data is stored, managed, and accessed correctly. The software safeguards require appropriate access, audit, and encryption controls. HIPAA laws include specified penalties and fines for those who violate the standards.

What is PHI?

HIPAA protected health information (PHI) is any information in a medical record that can be used to identify an individual, and that was created, used, or disclosed in the course of providing a health care service, such as a diagnosis or treatment. PHI includes a wide range of identifiers and various sensitive data recorded throughout the treatment and billing. PHI must be treated with the proper safeguards. eHealth applications that collect, store or share PHI need to be HIPAA compliant.

How are HIPAA laws followed?

There are many requirements for a business associate or covered entity that deals with the transmission of ePHI to ensure HIPAA-compliance.

These include:

  • Privacy rule
  • The Privacy Rule establishes access to medical records and other PHI about health plans and electronic healthcare communications. It guides the conditions under which it can be used, when it can be corrected, and to whom it can be disclosed. It requires signing a Business Associates Agreement with service providers who access PHI ensuring its safeguards.

  • Security rule
  • The Security Rule describes the set of administrative, physical, and technical measures that must be taken to protect the message history. It requires business associates and covered entities to conduct and document a risk analysis of their computers and other information systems to identify potential security risks. They must implement the specific administrative, technical, and physical safeguards required by the Security Rule. They also must train all staff members that have direct access to PHI.

  • Technical Safeguards
  • Technical safeguards are the technology and related policies that protect data from unauthorized access. While it provides the flexibility for organizations to determine which technological security measure will be implemented. HIPAA rules require encrypting data at rest, in transit, and storage.

Technical Safeguards can be:

  • Unique user identification;
  • Emergency access procedures;
  • Automatic timeouts in systems containing PHI;
  • Encrypting hard drives;
  • Password protection of all devices;
  • Breach notification rule.

It requires HIPAA-covered entities and their business associates to notify the media in case of the data breach. The notice is usually presented in the form of a press release and must be provided no later than 60 days following the Breach’s discovery.

Who must comply with HIPAA

Health care providers have moved to the digital world. While all electronic methods provide increased efficiency and mobility, they also drastically increase the security risks facing healthcare data. The following entities must follow HIPAA regulations:

  • Health plans;
  • Most health care providers, including doctors, clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, and pharmacies;
  • Health care clearinghouses;
  • HIPAA also applies to covered entities’ business associates, the third parties that perform services for a covered entity that accesses or discloses PHI. They can be based overseas and include practice management services, data processing, and pharmacy benefits managers.

How can HIPAA compliant chat API help?

Chat apps, APIs, and SDKs are capable instruments with numerous benefits. APIs allow securely sharing and transfer real-time data between patients and healthcare providers. However, providing first-rate security is a must when implementing healthcare software. Developers of healthcare software applications must closely monitor and avoid HIPAA violations, ensuring safety as these apps deal with sensitive personal information. API security must ensure multi-level data protection and provide powerful compliance issues prevention tools.

Why QuickBlox

QuickBlox has a rich experience in HIPAA, offering customized solutions to build chat features into businesses of any scale. We provide reliable and flexible APIs for your business needs, whether through a chat infrastructure, voice, or video solution. We aim to make it as simple and faster as possible to develop a HIPAA compliant software.

Benefits of using QuickBlox HIPAA compliant chat API

QuickBlox’s existing service allows you to focus on your application of any complexity without worrying about creating the HIPAA compliant message infrastructure. Our services can be hosted on the dedicated AWS cloud. All AWS instances that we use to run our applications follow the HIPAA requirements both at rest and in transit. Our cloud infrastructure supports flexible scalability and seamless cross-platform integration. We support the HTTPS protocol to work with our API and Secure XMPP, Secure Bosh, and Secure WebSockets. Finally, we offer a backup PHI to safeguard our clients from ransomware and cyber attacks.

Check our newest Q-consultation solution, specially developed to address business use cases where virtual private rooms are needed. It allows launching a system for remote doctor-patient treatment and administrative staff or nurses managing the patient queue. Offering hosted on a secure, scalable, GDPR, and HIPAA compliant backend. Flexible pricing option suggests secure payment for Q-consultation in the form of a per-seat subscription model or monthly as a SAAS license.

Do you have questions about how it works?

Contact us at any time to discover what benefits your business will get with QuickBlox.

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