HIPAA Compliance Testing for Web App (A Free Checklist Included)

1 year ago

Dear web app owners, 

This is no longer a competition. This is a war. Act accordingly! 

To dominate the world of healthcare web apps, the most basic requirement you must address is being compliant with HIPAA. 

Otherwise, you would be trapped in a loop of legal challenges and would find yourself in an awful state of helplessness. 

Sounds scary? Imagine how scarier it would be to go through it. 

But relax. You could always avoid such situations if you do act responsibly. 

Yes, you must prioritize HIPAA compliance testing for web apps. And if you’ve already prioritized, our dedicated HIPAA compliance specialists are here to help you. 

HIPAA is made out of these 5 rules:  

As per the type of requirements, HIPAA is divided into 5 different rules. These rules are:

Let’s discuss each HIPAA rule along with its web app requirements.

1) HIPAA security rule for web app 

Under HIPAA security rule, there are administrative, physical, and technical safeguards. 

Here, your healthcare web app must comply with technical safeguards, whereas administrative and physical regulations need to be addressed by you at your organizational level.

Technical safeguards are nothing but the set of technical regulations that you need to put in place to ensure ePHI privacy and security. 

Some of the technical requirements include the following:

  • You must encrypt the data of patients once it leaves internal firewalls. 
  • Your web app must give a unique user number and pin code to each user. 
  • You must define a strategy to release the personal information of patients in a safe manner during the time of emergency. 
  • You must gain the ability to confirm if the data is altered or destroyed by anyone. 
  • Your web app must automatically log off the users from the devices they are using to access patients’ data. 

A few major physical requirements include, 

  • You must have visibility over who is able to access physical locations where data is stored, either digitally or on paper. 
  • You must define policies for your people and their workstations from where they can access patients’ data. 
  • You must wipe out data stored on the mobile devices of your team members when they leave your organization.
  • You must record and maintain an inventory of every hardware device which can access patients’ data collected by your web app.

And here are some of the administrative requirements, 

  • You must have a security and privacy officer. 
  • You must execute a risk assessment. 
  • You must introduce a risk management policy. 
  • You must define a continuity plan. 
  • You must sign a business associate agreement with 3rd party service providers or business partners who have access to your data. 

2) HIPAA privacy rule for web app 

  • You must ask for patients’ consent before using their data for marketing, research, and fundraising.
  • You must create a policy to delete the data of patients permanently when that data is no longer required. 
  • You must provide a copy of patients’ data in 30 days if they ask for it. And for that, you must have a policy in place.  
  • You must publish your privacy practices on your web app or website. 
  • You must draft a Notice of Privacy Practices (NPP). You must also define a strategy to cope with failure to comply with NPP.   

3) HIPAA enforcement rule for web app 

  • You must define policies and procedures for handling PHI and using the web application.
  • You must implement regular security risk assessments.
  • You must use encryption to protect sensitive PHI.
  • You must adapt strong access and authentication controls.
  • You must ensure that the third-party vendors you work with for developing your web application are HIPAA-compliant and possess appropriate methods and strategies to protect PHI.

Here, it is worth mentioning that the US Department of Health and Human Services publicly lists out all data breaches recorded in the US healthcare industry. You can find the entire list from here

4) HIPAA breach notification rule for web app 

  • You must define the procedure to deal with a data breach. 
  • You must have the ability to identify the data breach of your healthcare web app. 
  • You must notify users and authorities in the case of a data breach. 
  • You must also notify the media if more than 5000 patients are affected due to a data breach.

Here, it is worth mentioning that the US Department of Health and Human Services publicly lists all data breaches recorded in the US healthcare industry. You can find the entire list here

5) HIPAA omnibus rule for web app

  • You must update NPP as per new standards. 
  • You must redraft HIPAA policies and procedures as per new standards. 
  • You must provide an electronic copy of patients’ data if they ask for it. 
  • You must update the Business Associate Agreement as per new standards. 
  • You must encrypt ePHI with new federal standards. 
  • You must update the breach notification compliance plan. 
  • You must create a logbook to document breach risk assessment results and breach notifications. This data should be kept for at least 6 years. 
  • You must launch a HIPAA Privacy and Security Awareness Training Program for all employees.

HIPAA testing for a web app: A free checklist from our HIPAA experts 

To make things easy for you, our healthcare compliance experts are here sharing all steps - in a well-organized and easy way - to make your web app compliant with HIPAA. 

1) Conduct these 6 required annual audits. 

  • Security Risk Assessment 
  • Privacy Standards Audit 
  • Security Standards Audit 
  • Asset and Device Audit 
  • Physical Site Audit 
  • HITECH Subtitle D Privacy Audit 

2) Identify all found gaps, thanks to these 6 audits. 

  • You must document these found gaps. 

3) Create a remediation plan to address gaps found in these 6 audits. 

  • You must document this remediation plan. 
  • You must review and update the remediation plan annually. 
  • You must keep this written remediation plan for at least 6 years. 

4) Provide annual HIPAA training to staff. 

  • You must document staff training as well. 
  • You must have a staff member designated as the HIPAA Compliance, Privacy, and/or Security Officer. 

5. Have policies and procedures as per HIPAA privacy, security, and breach notification rules.

  • And make sure your staff must be aware of these policies and must be legally attested to. 
  • You must annually review these policies and document them. 

6) Identify all of your vendors and business associates. 

  • You must sign business associate agreements with all your business associates. 
  • You must carry out due diligence on your business associates to validate their HIPAA compliance. 
  • You must track and review business associate agreements annually. 
  • You must have a confidentiality agreement with non-business associate vendors. 

7) Define a process for incidents or breaches 

  • You must have the ability to track and manage the investigation of all incidents. 
  • You must have the ability to provide required reporting on breaches. 
  • Your staff members must have the ability to report an incident anonymously.

Our procedure to execute HIPAA testing for your web app

Being a healthcare IT company, we understand the gravity of being compliant with HIPAA. Thus, we do our job seriously. 

We actually work on 3 fronts. 

Front #1: Helping developers to build HIPAA-compliant web app

Keeping web app requirements and features in mind, our HIPAA consultants prepare a customized HIPAA guide for the development team. 

This guide helps the development team to add each and every feature and functionality of the web app, as per HIPAA standards. 

For instance, developers with the help of a guide can set up the business logic which logs off users from devices they are using to access patients’ data. (Requirement under HIPAA security rule.)

As a result, developers are able to build web app features compliant with HIPAA in a single shot. 

Front #2: HIPAA compliance testing with detailed audit 

Once the web app code has been written, we execute HIPAA compliance testing with the help of a detailed audit strategy. 

In which, we define several test cases around HIPAA requirements and then test manually or automatically to find out whether your web app passes that test case or not. 

For example, a test case is, the system must automatically log off users from devices they are using to access patients’ data. 

And the test scenario here is to manually check if the system is able to identify the device which has access to patient data and then if able to log off users from that device automatically. 

We test each web app feature vs HIPAA requirement this way to make sure none of the requirements is left behind. 

Front #3: HIPAA documentation 

Here comes the most underrated thing. Whatever you do to make your web app compliant with HIPAA, must be documented properly. 

Because that’s the only proof you have to prove that you have checked off everything that makes your web app HIPAA compliant. 

Thus, keeping its importance in mind, we document every policy, audit, and assessment as per standards and give you peace of mind.  

Want to see HIPAA compliance testing in action? Here is our case study 

We eliminated 47 security gaps in the healthcare app and made it compliant with HIPAA. 

Our action plan contained 5 well-defined steps. 

And the outcome was 100% HIPAA compliant as well as the most secure healthcare app. 

Check out the entire case study here.