How does HIPAA apply to health information that patients create, manage or organize through the use of health apps? And, when must an app developer comply with the HIPAA Rules? Those are some of the questions that the HHS Office for Civil Rights has tried to answer in new guidance released to industry.

The OCR guidance, which offers a range of health app use scenarios and how HIPAA might apply, comes at a time when provider organizations are increasingly turning to mHealth apps to boost patient engagement. For example, two-thirds of the nation’s 100 largest hospitals now offer mobile apps to their patients, according to survey results released last month by consulting firm Accenture.

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