Today, the Office of Civil Rights launched a new website for health app makers aimed at providing a forum for HIPAA-related questions.

We are pleased that OCR is following through on Secretary Burwell’s commitment last year to make HIPAA clear for mobile health companies. Innovation in smartphones and tablets has made it possible for patients to monitor their own health and share critical data with physicians and loved ones. Mobile connectivity is poised to revolutionize healthcare by giving individuals greater access to their own health information and improving patient outcomes.

Unfortunately, a major obstacle to realizing the benefits of mobile health technology has been uncertainty around HIPAA. The introduction of smartphones has changed how the world communicates, but HIPAA reference materials on “Remote Use” date from before the iPhone even existed. The statute was originally enacted to help patients access their own health data, but it has evolved into a barrier making that information even harder to get.


Today’s OCR announcement is a step in the right direction, but there is a lot of ground to cover. What’s most important at this stage is to provide clear and meaningful guidance to app makers about how HIPAA will be implemented in a mobile environment. The App Association has highlighted several issues in this area requiring attention. Congress has also weighed in. We pledge to work with OCR to get resolution in these areas and to make this resource work best for companies committed to helping us live healthier through mobile technology.


Coverage: Politico Pro eHealth (sub. req.), FierceHealthITmHealthNews, Healthcare IT News, Clinical Innovation + Technology

Image: NEC Corporation of America / image cropped / license