React Native or Flutter? A Brief Guide to Choose the Best Framework! – Part II

React Native or Flutter? A Brief Guide to Choose the Best Framework! – Part II
React Native app development or Flutter app development
In Part I of this blog, we had compared the frameworks- React Native and Flutter based on numerous vital parameters. You may have a glimpse at Part I here.
This blog is an extension of Part I and here too, we will be focusing on a few more significant parameters to do a more detailed comparative analysis of both technologies.
We presume that by the end of this read, you will have better clarity on which framework is the best pick for your project development requirements. You will easily be able to decide whether to go with React Native app development or Flutter app development. So let’s quickly get started.

Comparative Analysis: React Native App Development Or Flutter App Development

React Native framework or Flutter framework
Learning Curve
React Native:
The learning curve of React Native is quite easier especially for those who are familiar with JavaScript. But working with React Native may get a bit difficult when it comes to mobile app development, though the framework has released several libraries, tutorials, documents, etc. to make the learning of this framework easier. 
Flutter too is not much difficult to learn. To understand this framework, developers need to learn the Dart language, which is pretty simple along with some basic knowledge of native iOS and Android development. However, this language is rarely opted by developers due to its low popularity. 
The Installation Process
React Native:
Node Package Manager (NPM) is required to install the RN framework. NPM can install the packages globally as well as locally. For this, it is essential for the React Native App developers to have knowledge of the location of the binary.
Also, the Homebrew package manager is required while installing React Native on macOS. The developers need to run the desired code for installing React Native on macOS and then access it from the command line.
For installing Flutter, one should download the binary for a particular platform from GitHub. For macOS, the developers should download the file- and add it as a PATH variable and then run the desired code.
The installation method of Flutter is a bit tedious and can be enhanced by supporting package managers like MacPorts, Homebrew, APT, YUM, etc. so that users can get rid of performing the extra steps while installing.
Architecture Supported by Each
React Native:
The latest architecture of React Native is based on 3 important threads namely: Native thread (where native code is placed and executed), JavaScript thread (where complete JavaScript code is kept and compiled), and Shadow thread (where the app’s layout is calculated).
React Native has a bridge between JavaScript and Native threads. According to this feature, the JavaScript code communicates with the Native API and the platform. Also, when it comes to iOS, RN makes use of JavaScriptCore separately for running all codes, whereas in the case of Android, it bundles the JavaScriptCore within the app. This will result in the increase of native functionality, however, it also increases the size of the app and that results in device lag or performance issues.
Flutter has a layered architecture. Developing a basic app in Flutter starts with platform-specific widgets or top-level root functions. Next, it is followed by basic widgets that communicate with rendering layers and the platform. Animation gestures exist just beyond the rendering layer, and this animation gesture transfers API calls to the foundation of the mobile app; also called Scaffold. It is run by a platform-specific embedder and a C/C++ engine. For separating the presentation layer from business logic, the Flutter app developers can utilize Flutter BLoC. Such an architecture eases the creation of complex apps with the use of simple and small components.
Development API and UI Components
React Native:
There are very few features and functionalities available in core React Native. The RN framework comes with just device access APIs and UI rendering. But using third-party libraries, this shortcoming can be overcome. For accessing native modules, RN makes use of several third-party libraries. You can find the list of the best-known UI component libraries here.
On the other hand, the Flutter framework comes with device API access, UI rendering components, testing, navigation, stateful management, and a plethora of libraries. In Flutter, you will have access to everything required for architecting mobile apps and, there is no need to use third-party libraries in Flutter. It also comes with widgets for Cupertino and Material Design that enable the developers to render the UI on both Android and iOS platforms with ease.
Convenience of Maintaining Code
React Native:
It is a bit difficult to upgrade and maintain code in React Native. One of the reasons behind this is the dependency on third-party libraries. Usually, the libraries are old and outdated and cannot be properly maintained, thus, affecting the code maintainability. Besides, there are chances that when the developers fork the code to suit the app requirement, it may interfere with the framework’s logic and slow down the overall development process.
On the contrary, code maintenance in Flutter is quite easier. It has simple code which allows the Flutter app developers to easily find issues, support third-party libraries, and even source external tools. Also, the hot-reloading property in Flutter is comparatively better than that in React Native and it helps to resolve several issues quickly.
Note: Modularity refers to the ability of a framework to enable different professionals with diverse experiences and technical skillsets to work under a single project.
React Native:
React Native offers less modularity support. At times, ReactJS developers, iOS developers, Android developers, etc. working on a project, may find it tough to match-up with each other.
Comparatively, Flutter provides better modularity for team diversity and also supports well while dividing the project codes into separate modules with its pub package system. The teams can easily add/change a code-base or construct various modules with the plug-in ability.
Testability of Code
React Native:
In React Native, there is no official support available for integration testing and UI-level testing. It offers just a few unit-level testing frameworks. Tools like Jest can be utilized for snapshot testing. Also, there are some third-party tools like Detox and Appium that can be used for testing the React Native apps even these aren’t supported officially by React Native.
Since Flutter functions with Dart, it provides excellent support for automated testing. Also, it offers a rich set of features for testing the applications at integration level, unit level, widget level, etc. Furthermore, it offers detailed documentation on testing the Flutter apps.

Concluding Views:

In this fast-paced digital era, having a high-quality, user-friendly, and responsive mobile app for your business is crucial. For developing such outstanding mobile apps, both React Native framework and Flutter framework have proved to be apt technologies. But which of these is the best pick for your project?
We have tried to explain that through this blog and its Part I. We hope we have imparted you an in-depth understanding of the good and the bad of both technologies. Also, these blogs will help you make an informed decision on whether to partner with a Flutter App Development Company or go for React Native App Development Company.
Here ends our blog!
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Does your Mobile App require HIPAA Compliance?

Does your Mobile App require HIPAA Compliance?
HIPAA compliant apps
Healthcare data has always been vulnerable to threats like data leaks, security breaches, unauthorized access, etc. The emergence of healthcare mobile apps and the current trend of digital healthcare record maintenance and data transfer; have worsened this possibility. Despite offering advantages like convenience, speed, and accuracy; digital healthcare data is prone to cyber-attacks.
Hence, the governing authorities across the globe have established rigorous standards for all medical entities that collect, process, and store patient data. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, commonly known as HIPAA, is one such compliance regulation mandated for US-based healthcare bodies that utilize healthcare software solutions.
Developing a HIPAA compliant app involves additional costs as extra security layers need to be integrated within the app. And, data breaches due to HIPAA violations may result in hefty fines or even criminal charges depending upon the severity of the breach. Hence, medical bodies and app development services must be well versed with the specific guidelines that determine whether a particular healthcare mobile app or software needs to comply with HIPAA regulations. This post has consolidated all relevant HIPAA-related information to guide you through HIPAA standards and also mentions which entities are covered under the HIPAA rule. Read along to know whether your healthcare mobile app falls under the category of applications that require HIPAA compliance.

HIPAA: Inception and Governance

The HIPAA act was rolled out on 21st August 1996 and had been updated several times since then. The most noteworthy update was the one declared on 14th April 2003.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regulates the HIPAA rule and the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) enforces this rule. OCRs provides routine guidance on new issues cropping up in the healthcare industry and investigates the common instances of HIPAA violations.

Why is HIPAA Compliance Important?

HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) is a set of interlocking regulatory standards that establish how businesses should use, store, and disclose patients’ data while maintaining the privacy and security of that data.
The prime objective of HIPAA is to prevent the unauthorized and unlawful exposure of sensitive patient information. As such, HIPAA confers patients certain rights regarding their healthcare data. It also offers federal protection to this data by defining rules concerning administrative setups of medical facilities and the technical safeguards to be used by them. The reason is that if confidential patient data is leaked, there would be absolute chaos resulting in the failure of the entire healthcare system. Therefore, all medical organizations handling PHI (protected health information) must adhere to HIPAA guidelines for protecting the privacy & integrity of patient data and ensuring data security.

How does HIPAA Function and what are its Offerings?

HIPAA defines and controls how a patient’s PHI is collected, stored, and managed by doctors, healthcare facilities, and other stakeholders of the healthcare sector. This PHI can be physical records or electronic records maintained by a healthcare application. HIPAA regulates physical and electronic standards for protecting the privacy of an individual’s data.
Coming to offerings, HIPAA focuses on the confidentiality and privacy of healthcare data. The most notable offerings are providing insurance portability to citizens, setting standards for handling medical data, maintaining the efficiency of healthcare data-related operations, and ensuring data security.

HIPAA Regulations: Categories

Healthcare app development services

HIPAA Privacy Rule

The HIPAA privacy rule determines which data is considered PHI and which entities will ensure whether the PHI is disclosed lawfully or not.

HIPAA Security Rule

The HIPAA security rule deals with electronic information and establishes guidelines to be followed for maintaining the privacy and security of the PHI. This rule categorizes the data protection methodologies into three different segments – physical, administrative, and technical. Physical security standards cater to actual devices, administrative standards deal with training & access control, while the technical category revolves around data.

HIPAA Omnibus Rule

The HIPAA Omnibus rule was added to apply HIPAA compliance for business associates of covered entities. The rule also mandates the rules pertaining to BAAs. BAAs or Business Associate Agreements are contractual agreements that must be signed and agreed upon before sharing or transferring any data containing PHI or ePHI. Such an agreement is executed either between any covered entity and a business associate or between two business associates.

HIPAA Breach Notification Rule

This rule defines standards to be followed by covered entities and business associates in an event of a data breach involving the ePHI or PHI. The rule states various requirements related to breach reporting. Data breach incidents must be promptly reported to HHS OCR. The breach reporting protocols are defined as per the magnitude and the type of the data breach.

Which Elements of the Healthcare Industry are covered under HIPAA Compliance?

PHI (Personal Health Information)

As defined by the US law authorities, all personal or health-related information of a patient that was created, disclosed, or used during the course of diagnoses or treatment; falls under PHI. PHI includes the data used/stored by a healthcare facility, covered entity, or a business associate of a covered entity for identifying a patient’s identity, and determining their present medical condition, payment transaction data, or provisions of medical care. PHI contains a patient’s demographic details like name, address, contact number, date of birth, geographical location, facial pictures, social security number, insurance information, financial details, and healthcare records like medical bills/e-mails, lab test/scan results, pharmaceutical prescriptions, etc.
In a nutshell, PHI is personally identifiable information that is present in a patient’s healthcare records and the treatment-related data interactions happening between doctors and healthcare professionals. The fact that a patient has received services from a covered entity and the date on which the medical service was availed is also considered PHI.

Covered Entities

According to the Department for Health & Human Services (HHS), covered entities include healthcare clearinghouses, health plans, and the healthcare service providers that electronically transmit any kind of transaction-related medical information.

Business Associates

Any establishment/individual that collects, maintains, stores, or transmits PHI on behalf of a covered entity falls under the category of business associates even if they do not directly deal with healthcare. A business associate that works along with a covered entity also needs HIPAA compliance. Determining whether your mobile app is a business associate or not; may become tricky at times. So, it is advisable for you to consult a legal expert if you have the slightest confusion.

Does your Healthcare Mobile App require HIPAA Compliance?

Now comes the million-dollar question; “Does my healthcare mobile app need to be HIPAA compliant?” Let’s explore!

Identifiable and non-identifiable data

The process of determining whether or not your mobile app needs to comply with HIPAA rules is quite tricky. This is because data like a person’s DOB or zip code may seem least likely to be misused, but such data can be utilized by resourceful hackers for causing harm to individuals because these are identifiable data. As such, app owners must be able to distinguish between identifiable data and non-identifiable data.
For instance, popular fitness applications like Fitbit, Wahoo Fitness, Runkeeper, MyFitnessPal, etc. do not need HIPAA compliance because they track & handle non-identifiable data like heart rate, calories burnt, diet consumed, blood glucose levels, distance covered, steps climbed, BMI, and weight changes. Such data, if stolen cannot be used for carrying out malicious practices. So, this type of data is categorized under consumer health information, and not PHI. Furthermore, the aforesaid apps do not share the stored data with any third-party provider like doctors, medical professionals, or insurance agencies. And, since this data is not being transmitted, app owners do not require encrypting data by adding layers like cipher suites or TLS (Transport Layer Security).
mHealth and telemedicine apps have to be HIPAA compliant as they collect and transmit identifiable patient data. These apps connect patients with doctors for consultation, diagnoses, and treatment. For instance, mHealth/telemedicine app users are asked a plethora of questions concerning their health for narrowing down the symptoms, and then this information is used for finding the most suitable doctor who can begin their treatment. Moreover, patients receive treatment through remote monitoring via video conference calls, text messages, virtual doctor visits, and discussion forums. Therefore, such apps need to store and transmit data like e-prescription, personal identification data, treatment history, appointment information, etc.

Healthcare e-mails and Push Notifications

Generally, e-mails are non-compliant as they are usually unable to encrypt the contents. However, e-mailing information that contains PHI is a HIPAA violation. Hence, if PHI-related information has to be sent through e-mails, you must choose a HIPAA-compliant e-mail service provider for such communications.
Push notifications sent to users via mobile apps may violate HIPAA regulations. This is because, the content sent may be visible publicly on the screen, even when the smartphone device is locked. So, it’s advisable to avoid including any PHI-related data in the push notification content.

API and Database Calls

If your app depends on the data from the covered entity like a practitioner’s office and isn’t HIPAA compliant, then these covered entities will not be allowed to grant access to your app to execute API or database calls. Also it will not be able to read any information contained in the database. This will limit the app’s functionality considerably.

Concluding Lines:

If your healthcare mobile app needs to be HIPAA compliant, every element of the app including external tools or sensors has to comply with HIPAA rules. HIPPA compliance adds multiple security layers to your mobile app like administrative safeguards, technical safeguards, physical safety measures, documentation safety measures, and breach notification regulations. This increases the complexity of mobile app development and chances of misses are likely.
So, it would be a great idea to seek technical assistance and partner with experienced healthcare app development services. These companies can help you build the most robust HIPAA-compliant apps that function without any operational glitches.