FTC Launches New Web-Based Tool for mHealth App Developers | Healthcare Informatics Magazine | Health IT | Information Technology Skip to content Skip to navigation

FTC Launches New Web-Based Tool for mHealth App Developers

April 11, 2016
by Heather Landi
| Reprints

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released a new web-based, multi-agency interactive tool for developers of health-related mobile apps to serve as guidance about applicable federal laws and regulations.

The FTC developed the Mobile Health Apps Interactive Tool in conjunction with the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

According to a FTC press release, the guidance tool asks developers a series of high-level questions about the nature of their app, including about its function, the data it collects, and the services it provides to users. Based on the developer’s answers to those questions, the guidance will point the app developer toward detailed information about certain federal laws that might apply to the app. These 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).

The agencies want to help app developers understand consumer privacy and safety protections, while encouraging innovation in digital health.

“Mobile app developers need clear information about the laws that apply to their health-related products,” Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection said in a statement. “By working with our partner agencies, we’re helping these businesses build apps that comply with the law and provide more protection for consumers.”

 “As Americans become increasingly engaged in managing their health through diverse health IT products, this tool will provide product developers with access to the critical information and consistent guidance they need in order to innovate. ONC is proud to have collaborated with FTC over the past year on this effort and we hope that as a result, consumers are presented with effective, private, and secure products to support better health, smarter spending and a healthier population,” Lucia Savage, chief privacy officer, ONC, said in a statement.

Jocelyn Samuels, OCR director, said the new online tool will help technology developers understand when and how they must comply with HIPAA, and to that end, OCR recently issued guidance illustrating scenarios that trigger HIPAA coverage.

The guidance, which is maintained on the FTC’s website, links directly to each agency’s information about applicable laws. In addition, the FTC simultaneously released its own business guidance aimed at helping health app developers comply with the FTC Act, by building privacy and security into their apps.

 

Topics

News

NewYork-Presbyterian, Walgreens Partner on Telemedicine Initiative

NewYork-Presbyterian and Walgreens are collaborating to bring expanded access to NewYork-Presbyterian’s healthcare through new telemedicine services, the two organizations announced this week.

ONC Releases Patient Demographic Data Quality Framework

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) developed a framework to help health systems, large practices, health information exchanges and payers to improve their patient demographic data quality.

AMIA, Pew Urge Congress to Ensure ONC has Funding to Implement Cures Provisions

The Pew Charitable Trusts and the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) have sent a letter to congressional appropriators urging them to ensure that ONC has adequate funding to implement certain 21st Century Cures Act provisions.

Former Michigan Governor to Serve as Chair of DRIVE Health

Former Michigan Governor John Engler will serve as chair of the DRIVE Health Initiative, a campaign aimed at accelerating the U.S. health system's transition to value-based care.

NJ Medical Group Launches Statewide HIE, OneHealth New Jersey

The Medical Society of New Jersey (MSNJ) recently launched OneHealth New Jersey, a statewide health information exchange (HIE) that is now live.

Survey: 70% of Providers Using Off-Premises Computing for Some Applications

A survey conducted by KLAS Research found that 70 percent of healthcare organizations have moved at least some applications or IT infrastructure off-premises.