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HHS guidance clarifies HIPAA liability with use of 3rd-party health apps

From FierceHealthcare:

The Trump administration is pushing the healthcare industry to be a part of the smartphone economy, but there has been some confusion about whether healthcare providers and their health IT vendors would be held accountable for how patients use their health data.

To address this, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Civil Rights (OCR) released guidance to answer common questions about the use of third-party apps under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Two recently proposed interoperability rules from HHS call for the industry to adopt standardized application programming interfaces (APIs) so patients can access their health data using smartphone apps…

…“Once the patient downloads their data, their data is their responsibility. Once they download their information to an app then they need to sort out the secondary use issues,” Rucker said during the meeting. “The liability for stewardship of the data ends once the patient downloads it.”

Source: HHS guidance clarifies HIPAA liability with use of 3rd-party health apps | FierceHealthcare

Three important Issues from the linked article above.

There is a great deal of interest in making healthcare data available online using smartphone apps. There is a great potential for this to improve the human condition. BUT…

People are afraid to share personal healthcare info for security reasons. Too many hackers. This leads to number three.

HIPAA rules provide significant punitive penalties for healthcare entities who allow patient data to be seen by others. App makers are afraid to access patient data if it means they could be liable for millions in HIPAA fines.