Best Development Practices For HIPAA Providers

The internet has provided widespread access to all kinds of information. However, not all of the sources are reliable or legitimate. This has made the internet a scary place to visit for many seeking accurate information. For healthcare-related websites, it is vital that the information they contain is correct and meets Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) compliance. In this article, we will review what your website requires to reach that standard.

Why You Need An HIPAA compliant Website

According to a survey conducted in 2018, 80% of the 1,000 US adults in the study said they had turned to the worldwide web for healthcare-related information in the past twelve months. The survey further showed that the look and feel of a website had caused 63 percent of the respondents to pick one provider over another. The content found on websites, such as relevant, accurate, and interesting information all draw visitors. This is why it is critical to use healthcare technology tools to create a website that is attractive and easy to use but also provides the right kind of information that is true and verifiable. Healthcare-related websites that are not HIPAA compliant can damage the provider's reputation and lead to fines or other penalties.

HIPAA Basics For Websites

The purpose of HIPAA is to control the security of protected health information (PHI). PHI includes such data as a patient's name, address, phone number, birth date, email contact details, or medical records. PHI is required in setting appointments because the information identifies who the patient is. HIPAA states that healthcare providers and vendors who come in contact with PHI have to follow certain guidelines. According to HIPAA, healthcare providers must sign a business associate agreement (BAA) when working with a vendor to legally cover the provider in the event of a data breach.

Benefits of HIPAA Compliance

There are many benefits to having a HIPAA-compliant website. They include the following: Trust It is a simple fact that healthcare-related websites that follow the HIPAA guidelines are the most trusted by online users. It is because visitors to a HIPAA-compliant website will understand that the website owner has taken steps to protect sensitive information. Loyalty Trust typically leads to loyalty. With a HIPAA-compliant healthcare-related website, online users will turn to you as they will view your business as a reliable source of information. As a result, they will return to your website feeling safe and knowing what to expect. Profitability The loyalty of regular patients using your services, which they were attracted to from your website, will increase your profits. Increased profits translate to a successful business venture. HIPAA compliance will ensure the quality of your service. Competitive Edge When you employ HIPAA compliance to your website and service, you will instantly stand out from the crowd. As stated, not all online sources are legitimate with accurate information. By following these HIPAA practices, your service will have a competitive edge.

How To Make Your Website HIPAA Compliant

The design of your website is crucial at this point. You have to have a clear idea of what you are requesting from your online visitors. Common options are for visitors to a healthcare-related website to send an email to the site operator. Or you may wish to have visitors fill out a form you provide online. Another option is to provide visitors with access to a patient portal that they can view or update the information contained in their medical files. When you determine what you want from your website visitors, ask yourself the following: - Am I collecting PHI on my website? - Am I transmitting PHI through my website? - Am I storing PHI on a server on my website? If your answer is yes to any of these three questions, your next step in the process is to ensure that your website meets HIPAA standards.

The Three Steps To HIPAA Compliance

Three basic elements are required on your website to bring it to HIPAA compliance. These are outlined below. Step #1 - SSL Certificate The first step to meet HIPAA compliance with your healthcare-related website is to obtain a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate. The SSL provides a secure link between a visitor's web browser and your website. It permits any PHI that is shared with your website to remain private and protected.  Step #2 - HIPAA-Compliant Online Forms The next step is to have your website equipped with HIPAA-compliant online forms. These specific forms provide the secure collection of PHI which reduces the possibility of information being accessed during a data breach.  Step #3 - Encryption The final step in the process is to employ encryption technology. This means that any PHI and other data are converted into text that becomes unreadable without the use of an encryption key. Encryption is possible through software and algorithms that alter the inputted information. The encryption key deciphers that data and is only available to you. Encryption protects information in that it makes the data useless to anyone without the key to convert it back to readable text.

Final Thoughts

The internet has changed the way we seek information. While it has improved access to a variety of things, the lack of regulation online has led to the establishment of several different websites that are not as reliable as others. To ensure that your healthcare-related website is viewed as a legitimate source of information, all you have to do is apply HIPAA-compliant practices into the design of your website. Not only will it improve your online presence, but it will attract visitors seeking accurate sources they can trust and rely on. If you expect your website visitors to share any of their personal information with you, using HIPAA guidelines will protect their sensitive data and help you to keep that personal information secure. With a safe website representing your service, visitors to your website will become patients and your business will thrive. It is not a complicated process that returns many benefits once in place and operational. - About the Author: Marina Turea works as content manager at Digital Authority Partners, a San Diego-based digital marketing and website development agency.