New framework aims to secure digital health apps not covered by HIPAA

Several healthcare stakeholder groups developed a new framework that addresses privacy and security risks associated with digital health tools and apps that fall outside of HIPAA regulation.

The American College of Physicians, the American Telemedicine Association and the Organization for the Review of Care and Health Applications, released the Digital Health Assessment Framework on May 2. The framework, which is meant to support healthcare professionals and consumers, aims to assess the adoption of digital health technologies, while helping healthcare leaders and patients make more informed decisions about which digital health tools to adopt. 

"Digital health technologies can offer safe, effective and engaging access to personalized health and support, and provide more convenient care, improve patient and provider satisfaction, and achieve better clinical outcomes," wrote Ann Mond Johnson, CEO of the American Telemedicine Association. "Our goal is to provide confidence that the health and wellness tools reviewed in this framework meet quality, privacy and clinical assurance criteria in the U.S."

The framework comes as other coalition groups push for better protections for patient health data on third-party applications. 

On March 25, the Confidentiality Coalition and the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange wrote a letter to HHS and the U.S. Commerce Department stating that a national cybersecurity framework is needed to prevent the exposure of a patient's private health data as there is a "lack of robust privacy standards applicable to the large percentage of third-party application developers not associated with covered entities and therefore not covered under HIPAA."

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