Lawmakers back app developers' plea for clearer, updated HIPAA regulations

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App developers asked, and lawmakers responded — Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) has answered app developers' requests for more transparent and updated HIPAA regulations by asking HHS to work more closely with the burgeoning mobile industry.

Earlier this week, The App Association and five mobile health companies wrote Rep. Marino, who has been active in mHealth issues, expressing the need for more accessible HIPAA guidelines with clearer rules for app developers and regulations that are relevant to the modern mobile world.

Rep. Marino, along with Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), responded to the app developers' requests by writing their own letter to HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell asking the department to engage with app developers to ensure they have the resources needed to comply with HIPAA, according to a report in VentureBeat.

"Many companies creating mobile health apps have told us that they want to fully comply with HIPAA regulations but have difficulty confirming that they have done so because current regulatory guidance does not cover technologies that they are using," the Congressmen wrote.

"In some cases, small technology companies have reported having to hire large legal teams just to determine with some level of certainty that their product is in compliance with HIPAA. In order to ensure that innovative health companies do not inadvertently run afoul of the law, regulatory guidance should be routinely updated to reflect modern technologies being used in the health field."

The Congressmen also asked HHS to create app-focused resources for developers to ease the path to HIPAA compliance.

More articles on HIPAA:

25 years of health IT: 30 findings on changing perspectives
7 skills needed to be competitive in the health IT job market
Right before celebrity breach, Apple banned HealthKit developers from storing PHI in iCloud

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