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Does HIPAA require a covered entity or its EHR system developer to enter into a business associate agreement with an app designated by the individual in order to transmit ePHI to the app?

It depends on the relationship between the app developer, and the covered entity and/or its EHR system developer.  A business associate is a person or entity who creates, receives, maintains or transmits PHI on behalf of (or for the benefit of) a covered entity (directly or through another business associate) to carry out covered functions of the covered entity.  An app’s facilitation of access to the individual’s ePHI at the individual’s request alone does not create a business associate relationship.  Such facilitation may include API terms of use agreed to by the third-party app (i.e., interoperability arrangements).

HIPAA does not require a covered entity or its business associate (e.g., EHR system developer) to enter into a business associate agreement with an app developer that does not create, receive, maintain, or transmit ePHI on behalf of or for the benefit of the covered entity (whether directly or through another business associate).  

However if the app was developed to create, receive, maintain, or transmit ePHI on behalf of the covered entity, or was provided by or on behalf of the covered entity (directly or through its EHR system developer, acting as the covered entity’s business associate), then a business associate agreement would be required.

More information about apps, business associates, and HIPAA is available at https://hipaaqsportal.hhs.gov

 

Created 04/18/19

Content created by Office for Civil Rights (OCR)
Content last reviewed on April 22, 2019