The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently created an online tool to help health app developers determine which federal laws may apply to their mobile apps. The Mobile Health Apps Interactive Tool provides a brief summary of four laws that may apply to health apps, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act), the FTC Act and the FTC’s Health Breach Notification Rule. The tool also has an interactive feature that leads the developer through a series of ten short questions about the app’s functions. Based on the developer’s answers, the tool indicates whether the developer may need to follow any of the laws when creating or administering the app.

TIP: With the popularity of health apps, federal agencies have increasingly offered guidance and resources to app developers. In addition to the FTC’s tool, health app developers can submit questions to the Office for Civil Rights to understand how HIPAA may apply to their apps.