How to develop a HIPAA-compliant app: a comprehensive guide


Date: 19 June 2024

A woman is using a healthcare app to monitor her health

Businesses starting out in mobile app development face a wealth of challenges and legal regulations. Even if you are planning a phased release with future updates, you must obey the law at every stage of development.

This article discusses one of the main protocols for making a healthcare app – HIPAA. If you don't know what it is or how to ensure HIPAA-compliant app development, this information will help you in your research.

What is HIPAA?



The goal of HIPAA is to prevent the disclosure of patients' health information without their informed permission. In the healthcare industry, HIPAA covers insurers, digital goods, and healthcare providers.

What advantages do HIPAA-compliant apps offer?



For clients

For businesses

Enhanced data security

Ensures robust protection of sensitive health information against unauthorized access and breaches.

Privacy assurance

Guarantees the confidentiality of personal health information shared only with authorized parties.

Increased trust

Builds trust by demonstrating a commitment to safeguarding health information.

Regulatory compliance

Ensures adherence to HIPAA regulations, avoiding legal penalties, and fostering compliance.


Improved health management

Encourages the use of secure health apps, leading to better health management and outcomes.


User confidence

Allows users to focus on app functionality without data security concerns.


Secure communication

Facilitates secure communication between clients and healthcare providers, enhancing care quality.

Reputation protection

Maintains the reputation of healthcare providers and app developers by preventing data breaches and upholding data protection standards.


Competitive advantage

Provides a competitive edge by demonstrating a commitment to high standards of data protection.


As you can see, sensitive data protection is not just a client-oriented benefit. Ensuring compliance is crucial for any healthcare mobile apps because it protects user data, fosters confidence, and keeps apps out of legal hot water.

Essential features in a HIPAA-compliant app

You must include features that guarantee security, usability, and regulatory compliance when developing an app that complies with HIPAA.

The main functions typically used in such apps include:

User authentication and access control

  • Multi-factor authentication (MFA). Requires several types of authentication before giving access. This improves security.
  • Access control based on roles (RBAC). Limits access to data according to the role of the user, making sure that only people with permission may see or change sensitive data.

Data encryption

  • Encryption at rest. The use of strong encryption algorithms to protect data stored on servers or devices.
  • Encryption in transit. Secures data transmitted over networks using protocols such as SSL/TLS.

Audit trails and logging

  • Comprehensive logging. Tracks all access and modification activities to provide a detailed record of interactions with sensitive data.
  • Audit trails. Enables tracking and analysis of access patterns to detect and respond to potential security breaches.

Secure messaging and communication

  • Encrypted messaging. Provides secure channels for communication between patients and healthcare providers.
  • Secure file transfer. Ensures that any files shared within the app are encrypted and accessible only to authorized users.

Data backup and recovery

  • Automated backups. Regular data backups to secure locations and prevent data loss.
  • Disaster recovery. Implements strategies and procedures to quickly restore data if a system failure or breach occurs.

Notifications and alerts

  • Secure notifications. Sends alerts and notifications to users without compromising data security.
  • Compliance alerts. Notifies administrators of potential HIPAA compliance issues or breaches in real time.



Where should you start when building an app?

  1. Do your research. Study HIPAA compliance information.
  2. Choose a development firm. It should have experience working on HIPAA-compliant projects. Check the agency's portfolio and client testimonials. Make sure they have a track record of successfully implementing HIPAA compliance and experience in the healthcare industry.
  3. Define your needs. Engage all stakeholders, including healthcare professionals, compliance officers, and IT security experts, to ensure that all requirements are aligned with regulatory standards and practical needs.
  4. Discuss UX/UI design solutions and functions. Clearly define your project requirements. Identify the core functionalities your app must have and UX/UI solutions. Remember that ignoring these essentials at this stage will lead to double-spending in the future.
  5. Track the progress of your project. Always communicate with your contractor to know how it is going.
  6. Ensure ongoing maintenance of your app. If any occur, you should eliminate them as they arise. This is easier to by outsourcing maintenance to the company originally engaged in the development of your project.

How much does it cost to develop a HIPAA mobile app?

Factors influencing the cost


Cost-minimisation tips


Simple apps should cost less. Complex apps with multiple features will be more expensive.

Start with an MVP (minimum viable product) to reduce initial costs.

Development team

Costs differ depending on whether you hire a local or offshore development team. Local developers generally charge more.

Consider a hybrid team with local and offshore developers to balance cost and quality.

Security measures

Implementing strong security protocols, such as encryption and secure authentication, adds to the cost.

Take advantage of established security frameworks and cloud-based services that are already HIPAA-compliant.

Maintenance and updates

The whole cost includes ongoing compliance and frequent upgrades to handle emerging security concerns.

Plan for periodic updates and maintenance instead of ad-hoc fixes to spread out costs.

Average cost range

The cost to develop a HIPAA-compliant app can vary significantly, typically ranging from £50,000 - £150,000 or higher.

The bottom line

Don't be afraid of HIPAA compliance; it's essential for earning a reputation and avoiding fines. A skilled development company will guide you in the development process and help you build the mobile app for your needs. Good luck!

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