On Monday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released an online platform designed for use by developers of mobile medical applications (apps). The site allows users to submit questions regarding compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and to access basic HIPAA resources. HIPAA compliance by mobile medical apps has been an area of significant confusion. The intent of the site is to provide these developers, often small start-ups, with a low costs and easy way to become familiar with HIPAA.

The area of mobile medical app development is rapidly evolving and government agencies have a hard time keeping pace with new technologies. The online platform provides a for a forum where app developers can see issues that others in the field are facing. The site currently includes links to OCR’s existing reference materials on HIPAA topics.

While anyone may use the site, individuals who want to post to the site must to supply an e-mail address, although his/her identity and address will remain anonymous to OCR. OCR intends to monitor the site and may determine that additional formal guidance is required based on questions asked; however, OCR stated that it will not respond individually to questions. Additionally, OCR has made it clear that it will not use the site for enforcement purposes.