Are you developing a Mobile Health App? Please look to this Mobile Health Apps Interactive Tool for the scoop on what laws you’ll need to abide by!

The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) decided to pioneer the mobile health app service sphere. This new web-based tool has been designed to aidcreators of mobile health apps in their continued understanding of which federal laws will apply to them. The FTC built the interactive tool in team with the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Civil Rights (OCR), the HHS Office of National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The interactive tool addressesapp creators with a series of “high-level” queries. These will be on the nature of their app, its function, the data it collects, and the services it provides to users. Then, depending on the responses to different questions the developer will receive a list of information regarding which laws should be abided by. These laws include the FTC Act, the FTC’s Health Breach Notification Rule, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act (FD&C Act).

OCR want developers to ask questions to ensure HIPAA Security and Privacy compliance

OCR, has recently released a statement about the tremendously large influx of health information technology. This statement outlines the results of the increase of technology as well.

“We are experiencing an explosion of technology using data about the health of individuals in innovative ways to improve health outcomes. Building privacy and security protections into technology products enhances their value by providing some assurance to users that the information is safe and secure and will be used and disclosed only as approved or expected.”

It is in the spirit of this message that the app was created to ensure abidance to federal and state laws, including the HIPAA Privacy, Security and Breach Notification Rules. However a large number of health information technology developers are not aware of the relationship that HIPAA law has on their app.

OCR has also created a site to answer users who want to submit questions, offer comments on other submissions or vote on how relevant the topic is will sign in using their email address. The site will also carry various safeguards for the users, including complete anonymity when questions were asked. OCR will use the information received through this site to better strengthen its resolve and direction.

OCR has also made it very clear that posting or commenting on a question will not subject anyone to law enforcement action unless a threat has been made. While OCR will be monitoring for the site for “appropriateness” it cannot ensure the accuracy of answered question. OCR stated, “While we cannot respond individually to questions, we will try to post links to existing relevant resources when we can. We appreciate input from stakeholders and will consider comments as we develop our priorities for additional guidance and technical assistance.”