A letter from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office for Civil Rights to Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) signals an intent to move forward with providing clearer regulatory guidance relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) rules addressing mobile health app developers. The letter, written in November but made public last week, from HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell responds to concerns outlined in an earlier request written by DeFazio on behalf of the trade group ACT | The App Association regarding enforcement of HIPAA.

HHS noted that “existing guidance materials may not address all of the questions that companies in this emerging field may have.” The agency confirmed its intent to provide clear information about what is expected of technology companies in order to comply with HIPAA and plans to work with ACT | The App Association to develop guidance materials. HHS also confirmed that it will actively engage more regularly with technology companies to provide compliance assistance in this area including exploring the possibility of holding “listening sessions” to hear directly from stakeholders in this area.