What’s Hitrust Certification and How Does it Apply to Health Mobile Apps?

We’re living in a unique age of the healthcare industry, where digital innovations are happening at a rate we’ve never seen before.

This is great news for the healthcare industry, but it can be difficult from a legislative point of view.

This is largely because there are very few pieces of legislation that protect a patient’s online data.

Though some pieces of healthcare legislation have been updated to try and be inclusive of online data, including health mobile apps, but many of these additions have been ambiguous and difficult to implement.

Hitrust, which stands for Health Information Trust Alliance, is a non-profit who created the Common Security Framework to change this.

According to Digital Authority Partners, HITRUST has now become the most widely applied security framework in the US healthcare system which applies to both mobile apps and healthcare websites.

Essentially, the Common Security Framework (CSF) harmonizes and cross-references existing, globally recognized mobile app development standards, regulations and business requirements across the health system.

This encompassess all state, national and international legislation to make it inherently clear what is required of the healthcare industry when dealing with the digital world.

As it deals with the safety and security of healthcare mobile/ web data, many people assume that the Hitrust CSF and HIPAA are the same thing, but this isn’t the case.

The main difference is that the HIPAA regulations were vague, and to become compliant all healthcare providers had to do was sign a document saying that they were.

To become Hitrust certified, however, you have to go through a much more rigorous process.

The initial assessment process itself can take a number of months, and involves a company proving that they are implementing the hundreds of different policies and procedures required in order to be compliant.

To receive the Hitrust CSF certification, companies must also be using the right technologies and protocols.

This certification is also re-assessed regularly due to the ever changing landscape of the digital world, meaning healthcare companies cannot slack on their data security if they want to remain certified.

Why You Should Become Hitrust Certified

With all the information regarding the difficulties of becoming Hitrust certified, it’s easy to wonder whether going through the process is even worth it.

In fact, many healthcare companies will question whether they should make the move for some time before they go ahead with it.

Eventually, however, most weigh up the pros and cons and do decide to go for it.

This is because, despite the time-consuming and cost elements that make it seem unattractive at first glance, there are several benefits to becoming Hitrust certified sooner rather than later when building mobile apps.

We thought we’d share just a few of the main reasons below.

It Gives Your Company A Competitive Edge

Despite the benefits, there are still some companies who have decided against becoming Hitrust certified–or they may be yet to discover its existence.

If you know about it, however, going through the effort of becoming Hitrust certified is definitely rewarded with the competitive edge it provides you.

Think about it; would you rather choose a healthcare company with several different adherences, or the one who uses the most recognized framework in the US?

By doing this, you are proving that you are willing to do whatever it takes to protect your client’s secure data, so you’re more likely to be offered the opportunities.

Even if you aren’t taking on new clients, becoming Hitrust certified proves that you are dedicated towards protecting the privacy of the clients you do already have.

Many Healthcare Businesses Now Require It

While Hitrust definitely allows you a competitive edge over businesses without the certification, it may also simply allow you to continue working with your current associates.

This is because many executives within the healthcare industry are now requiring that their third-party service providers building apps for them become Hitrust certified.

The main reason this is happening is because, as the most comprehensive framework in healthcare, many companies view this as the ultimate way of ensuring those they work with put safety and security first.

Do you really want to wait until it becomes the only real option for healthcare companies before you make the switch?

It Reduces Audit Times

Audit’s are essential for every healthcare company, regardless of whether you are maintaining a healthcare app or handling all your patient data online.

This can often be a complex process without Hitrust as your company is responsible for placing numerous audits to the different regulation providers that require them.

With Hitrust, on the other hand, you have just one audit to deal with that handles all previous data protection legislation.

This will save you time, and allow you to see what you are doing well and what you could improve on in one place instead of several.

Provides Peace Of Mind

Stress and anxiety can be troubling for any business, but it can be almost catastrophic for the healthcare industry.

When you’re dealing with so much sensitive data, however, it can be difficult not to think about the consequences of anything going wrong.

When it has been reported that data breaches cost organizations an average of $380 per record, you can see that these anxieties are not completely unfounded.

The good news is that the Hitrust, with a clear framework and assessments that tell you exactly what you need to do when building a healthcare mobile app.

By having clear instructions people with a company are able to deal with any potential security issues before they become a problem that could compromise patient data.

This knowledge will lower anxiety and stress levels, and allow people to be more productive as some of their worries about their jobs are being dealt with under this legislation.


Though Hitrust CSF certification is a time-consuming and relatively expensive process, it’s something that all healthcare companies should strive towards.

In fact, many have already made the switch, with HealthcareWeekly reporting that 84% of health plans, organizations and business associates are using the CSF.

One of the biggest advantages is that having several different legislations placed into one framework saves time in the long run, and makes managing the security of your healthcare facility far easier.

It can also give you a competitive advantage over other companies locally, and may be the deciding factor in who a company uses for their healthcare needs.

This article was contributed by Julian Gnatenco at JGBilling, a medical billing company in Chicago

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