Health

Medable promises an easy way to make health apps comply with health data laws

Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 3.05.34 PM
Image Credit: Medable

Many health-related apps and devices will be hitting the market in the next year or two. And the data that these apps and devices collect could help your doctor provide a more holistic picture of your health.

Medable-Img-1But, as I wrote a few weeks ago, when that health data crosses the line from consumer health cloud into the healthcare delivery system, HIPAA privacy rules will come into play.

One company, started by a Stanford physician, has foreseen this challenge to device and app developers, and is offering a way to easily comply with HIPAA’s often stringent rules. These “medical grade” apps can then safely share data with clinical systems.

“With Medable, mobile apps can make it easy for users to communicate with their doctors, nurses, and caregivers, and also to provide them with any kind of data originating from their mobile devices,” company co-founder Dr. Michelle Longmire tells VentureBeat. “That lets everyone receive the data, visualize it, and then communicate about it in a very natural way.”

Medable-Img-2Health app developers can use the platform to build new applications or to integrate Medable features into existing applications, Longmire says. Medable also offers numerous application features like patient and provider profiles, two-factor authentication, and “push” messaging. These features are delivered through a software development kit (SDK) and an application programming interface (API).

“If push messages are sent to care providers, they contain only the metadata, not any identifiable information,” Longmire explains. “So a physician might receive a message saying ‘an image is available for you,’ but the doctor would need to log in to get the image.”

Longmire says Medable uses the HL7 clinical data format, so it can integrate with, and exchange data with, any electronic health record system that uses HL7 format, and the majority of them do.

The main concern of HIPAA rules is guarding “protected health information” or “PHI” from the eyes of those who don’t need to see it for clinical purposes.

Longmire says the Medable platform encrypts all PHI in several ways — on the device, in transit and then on the Medable platform.

The Medable platform can also anonymize large amounts of clinical data so that researchers can study it. Additionally, Medable provides all of the capability needed for HIPAA auditing and clinical data reporting.

The bottom line is that Longmire’s platform gets app developers out of the privacy and compliance business, at least where it concerns sharing data with hospitals or medical groups.

“Medable allows developers to focus on the content of their apps, instead of on data security, which is not their specialty,” Longmire says.

The global health market was at $6 billion in 2013, but it’s projected to be a $26 billion market by 2017.