Top Five Things to Consider in Ensuring Healthcare Website HIPAA Compliance
With a dedicated focus on digital marketing for healthcare-related companies, Naples, Florida-based Moxxi Marketing needs to keep abreast of regulatory and ethical issues that may dictate how and what our clients communicate online. Thus, when building websites or initiating marketing campaigns for our healthcare industry clients, we need to follow healthcare association ethical directives, as well as federal laws designed to protect patients from false advertising and breach of privacy.
The protection of patients’ privacy falls under what is known as HIPAA, and any medical-related company building a website needs to make sure that it is HIPAA compliant. Non-compliance can lead to civil and/or criminal enforcement, which can result in subsequent stiff financial penalties, or even imprisonment for willful violations. With this in mind, these are the top five things to consider when building your HIPAA -Compliant website:
Does Your Health Care-Related Website Fall Under HIPAA Rules?
HIPAA—Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act—was passed into law in the 1990s in part to protect healthcare consumers from fraud and theft by dictating how healthcare providers handle patient information. The Act does this by regulating the handling of what is referred to as the patient’s protected health information (PHI), which is essentially any information that could expose the identity of a patient. Protection of PHI extends to the Internet and websites, so HIPAA needs to be addressed on your website if any of the following apply:
- Transmission of PHI through the website.
- Storage of PHI on any servers connected to the website.
- Collection of PHI on the website.
Utilize HIPAA Compliant Web Forms
Unless you’re using a specialty provider, most web forms and online form builders designed to gather information about customers for contact information and lead generation are not HIPAA compliant. So, when picking web forms for your healthcare site, take these measures to ensure compliance:
- Make sure that any associated email notifications do not include PHI.
- Safeguard any web form data reports with strong password protection.
- Do not allow long-term storage of web form data on your provider’s servers.
- Use encrypted forms with your overall HIPAA goal of using end-to-end encryption.
Encrypt All PHI-Related Data
Although not specifically mandated under HIPAA, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that healthcare companies use encryption as the best means for protecting digital patient data. Encrypting PHI can protect healthcare companies from ransomware, email breaches, and data loss due to laptop loss or theft. Encryption can protect PHI data at rest on your hard drives and servers, as well as PHI in motion, whether in emails, web forms or other Internet-related communications.
Use a HIPAA-compliant Patient Portal
Many healthcare providers have websites which are strictly informational, and therefore have no reason to store a patient’s protected health information. These providers often choose to utilize external patient portal software as a secure way to interact with patients online. This removes any necessity for the provider’s website to handle more sensitive PHI directly, and leaves navigation of the more stringent HIPAA regulations to a software platform that is specialized exactly for that purpose.
HIPAA Also Applies to Healthcare Vendors
When considering HIPAA with healthcare websites, know that the law also applies to any healthcare vendors who may interact with or otherwise encounter PHI when working with a healthcare provider. Thus, any companies that provide services to a healthcare provider, or deal in any way with PHI, also need to have HIPAA compliant websites. Additionally, healthcare providers should always ensure that they have a signed business associate agreement with any vendors who might play a role in managing or transmitting PHI data, such as website hosting companies.
Turn to Professionals for Your HIPAA-Compliant Website
As professional website designers and marketing experts with a solid track record of helping healthcare companies build powerful websites and online marketing campaigns, Moxxi Marketing is intimately familiar with HIPAA, and can help your company navigate its digital requirements. To learn more about how Moxxi Marketing can help you with your healthcare-related online marketing, Contact us today at 239.330.6236.