The App Association which represents app makers and related companies, for more than a year has worked with policymakers to get guidance on patient access rights to their health information under the HIPAA law. Now that the guidance is out, the group generally likes what it sees.
The department of Health and Human Services previously built a web portal where anyone could ask about HIPAA, but it wasn’t an effective resource because it wasn’t monitored very well, says Morgan Reed, executive director at the App Association.
The new guidance, available here, not only educates HIPAA covered entities as patients increasingly ask for their medical records but also companies that sell supportive technologies yet are not covered entities.
That’s important because up until now, app makers haven’t been able to adequately explain how functions within their products are acceptable under HIPAA, because pertinent parts of HIPAA haven’t been updated since 2006, when apps as we know them today did not exist, Reed says.
Still missing, however, is additional guidance that app companies hope comes sooner rather than later on how mobile apps should handle data. Technology is moving rapidly and patients are using it, but the government needs to keep pace with the changes, Reed adds. “There are wonderful pilot projects out there that never scale because of uncertainty over regulation.”
That has to change in an environment when the average person is never more than three feet from a mobile device, and the devices get better each year and can help an elderly family member stay at home rather than moving to an assisted living center, saving families enormous amounts of money, Reed says.
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