Last Updated on September 23, 2022
Having a web presence is now necessary for attracting patients in this modern day. However, a website in the medical industry isn’t as simple as it is for other sectors. Protecting the privacy of patients is a paramount concern. So how do you ensure your website is HIPAA compliant? We’ve put together a few tips for creating your website.
What is HIPAA?
First, let’s take a look at the HIPAA regulation. HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) is a national regulation meant to create standards for security and privacy. Protected Health Information (PHI) is any information that can be used to identify patients; this is what is protected under HIPAA. This information includes the patient’s name, phone number, address, and date of birth.
Other PHI examples:
- Phone number
- Fax number
- Email address
- Social Security number
- Medical record number
- Health plan beneficiary number
- Account numbers
- License number
- Device identifiers or serial numbers
- Web URLs
- IP address
- Biometric identifiers such as fingerprint
- Full-face photos
Under HIPAA regulations, any healthcare providers and vendors who are in contact with PHI must be compliant with the law. Both traditional practitioners and telehealth providers must have a HIPAA-compliant website to protect the information that is collected from patients.
How do you know if your website needs to be HIPAA compliant?
Figuring out if your website needs to be compliant is simple. Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you collect any PHI on your website?
- Do you store any PHI on servers that are connected to your website?
- Do you transmit PHI through your website?
If the answer to any of these questions is “yes” then you need to have a HIPAA-compliant website.
Creating A HIPAA Compliant Website
Ensure that your website is using HIPAA, compliant web forms to collect patient information. For WordPress-based websites, several plug-ins allow you to include compliant forms directly on your website. These plug-ins include WuFoo, JotForm, Gravity Forms, and a few other options. To make sure that your web-form service is compliant, ask them to sign a Business Associate Agreement to protect your patient’s information legally.
Next, consider the encryption of your data. Encryption is a security measure that further protects the information of your clients or patients. HIPAA has set standards for encrypting patient data in the digital age. Encryption converts your data or written text/PHI unreadable text using algorithms; this data can only be deciphered with an encryption key. HIPAA requires entities to use end-to-end encryption (E2EE). With E2EE only the sender and the intended recipient can view and access data. There is also another form of encryption that is compliant with HIPAA; Full Disc Encryption encrypts your entire computer.
Both providers and patients can trust HIPAA-compliant websites. PHI is sensitive information and measures should be taken to ensure the privacy and security of this patient data.
When considering a new website, there are certain things you want to ensure are in place for HIPAA compliance. Below we will break down the major points to consider are in place.
- Secure sockets layer (SSL)
- Full data encryption
- Full data backup (encryption)
- Permanent deletion options
- Restricted access for admins and users
- Regular password changes
- Breach protocol
- Appointed HIPAA compliance officer
- HIPAA policy published on site
- Vendors’ business associate agreement
Further Precautions to be Taken for a HIPAA-Compliant Site
These are a few of the most critical points for your business. Let’s breakdown each point individually:
Secure Sockets Layer – SSL
SSL is the standard security protocol for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. For your website visitors, this means that when they log into your website, everything is safely encrypted.
In addition, SSL data encryption provides an additional level of security for patient PHI data.
Encryption is important for communications between users and servers, as all data must be encrypted during transmission to make sure no one can read it even if it’s intercepted.
Safely storing patient data is also crucial. Storing data also needs to be encrypted so that only patient information is always kept safe and secure. HIPAA Off-site backup services allow you to create a copy of all the data that you store within your computer systems on a server that is stored off-site. Off-site data is critical in circumstances that may cause harm to your offices like natural disasters.
Permanent Data Deletion
HIPAA requires that data that is no longer relevant to your practice be deleted. If a patient leaves your care, you must permanently delete all of their information from your servers.
At Right On Tech, we are HIPAA certified and experienced in medical industry websites. Our talented team of web developers has worked with a variety of industries, including healthcare.
Are you ready to have a highly-functional HIPAA-compliant website? Contact us today to start planning your website.
Standard websites are not made to be compliant with HIPAA standards. It is crucial to work with a web developer that is experienced in designing HIPAA-compliant websites.
To ensure the security of information, only administrators should be able to access and make changes to data. Creating restricted access to data creates this security.
Frequent password changes are always a good idea, but with HIPAA, it’s another part of keeping compliant. Regularly changing the passwords for administrators and users keeps sensitive data safe and failure to do regular updates is considered a breach of HIPAA standards.
Even if you have followed all the rules to the T and have top-of-the-line security in place, you still need to have a data breach protocol in place. A breach protocol is one that you hope you never use, but it is a great measure to have in place to quickly neutralize a breach if one arises.
A HIPAA compliance officer keeps your patient data safe and keeps you compliant. An appointed officer is someone you select to ensure you never fall short of the standards put in place by HIPAA.
Business Associate Agreement
We have already briefly covered Business Associate Agreements with web forms. Business Associate Agreements must be signed and completed by any vendors or service providers you use.
HIPAA Certified Web Developers Are Here To Help You
Standard websites are not made to be compliant with HIPAA standards. It is crucial to work with a web developer that is experienced in designing HIPAA-compliant websites. At Right On Tech, we are HIPAA certified and experienced in medical industry websites. Our talented team of web developers has worked with a variety of industries, including healthcare. Are you ready to have a highly-functional HIPAA-compliant website? Contact us today to start planning your website.