What is HIPAA Compliance? Does Your Website Need to be HIPAA Compliant?

Tatevik

The Privacy and Security Rules of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) were designed to safeguard patients’ privacy and assure the confidentiality, accuracy, and accessibility of protected health information (PHI). No matter where PHI is gathered, kept, analyzed, or preserved, these principles apply to all types of PHI. As a result, HIPAA compliance may be required for websites.

Does your website need HIPAA compliance? Are you unsure on what are the requirements and rules of this compliance? How to get it?

Let’s check the answers together!

What is PHI in Healthcare? 

Protected health information (PHI) is medical or payment information that can be used to identify a person. This includes the following:

  • Identifying demographic or genetic data about a person’s health
  • Information about a person’s physical or mental standing
  • Payment or financial data pertaining to healthcare

What is HIPAA Compliance

HIPAA is an acronym for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which was created to provide people more control over their health care information. Furthermore, it placed tighter controls on the flow of private health data across state lines. No matter where PHI is obtained, kept, processed, or preserved, these principles apply to all types of PHI. As a result, HIPAA compliance may be required for websites.

Is HIPAA Compliance Required for Your Website? 

Determining if your website must be HIPAA compliant is the very first step in developing a HIPAA compliant website. Here are some questions you might ask yourself to help figure it out:

  • Is your website used to provide public health information?
  • Do you have a website that collects personal information from patients
  • Do you wish to use your server to collect or exchange PHI?

If you answered yes to these questions, you must guarantee that your website is HIPAA compliant.

How to Make a HIPAA Compliant Website 

To guarantee that your website complies with the HIPAA privacy and security standard, you must take the appropriate steps and implement necessary technical, physical, and organizational procedures to protect PHI from malicious hacking and data breaches.

Pay Attention to the Privacy Rule

The Privacy Rule must be well-understood because it is a foundation of HIPAA website compliance. All healthcare providers, insurance, and clearinghouses, as well as their business contacts, are subject to the Privacy Rule (any company responsible for the health information on their behalf).

The Privacy Rule requires that measures protecting the privacy of health information must be in place. The rule also outlines patient rights about their data, such as the right to obtain a copy of their health records, evaluate it, and request corrections.

Secure Your Healthcare Website With an SSL Certificate

The first step is to use an SSL certificate to offer the first levels of protection to your website. SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a networking technology that allows web clients and servers to communicate securely over the internet.

An SSL certificate encrypts communications from the user’s computer to the server, making them inaccessible to third parties. Every entity between both the user and the server could see the data that flows via a non-SSL website (with http url,) including important health or patient data.

Apart from complying with HIPAA regulations, a website that uses the https protocol is regarded as more reputable both by visitors and search engine algorithms, resulting in a higher ranking in search engine result pages (SERP.)

Ensure that all Data is Encrypted

While SSL encryption protects both the user and the server, you must also encrypt any data you save. All data must be encrypted during communication to ensure that it cannot be read if intercepted.

HIPAA has established its own encryption standards for both “at rest” and “in motion” data. Only the managers and core staff members should have control over the data. In order to avoid data breaches and attacks, access settings must be specified.

Protect Your Data Storage

Regardless of whether the data you acquire is housed on physical servers or in the cloud, sufficient security procedures must be in place. When deadline with PHI, it is standard practice to encrypt the data stored.

When data is stored in the cloud, selecting HIPAA-compliant hosting makes your job simpler. Security is integrated into the system rather than being an afterthought because they are already familiar with HIPAA requirements.

They make it much easier for you to select a cloud server that best matches your needs thanks to their multi-tiered pricing options and excellent support.

Make Agreements With Business Partners

Both healthcare professionals and health care suppliers who come into contact with PHI must comply with HIPAA. Under HIPAA, providers are referred to as “covered entities,” while suppliers are referred to as “business associates.”

A business associate is an arrangement between a company and a “business associate” who has accessibility to the company’s protected health information (PHI.) Business partners must follow HIPAA requirements to keep PHI secure, according to a similar contact.

Make the Best Use of Off-site Backups

One of the best methods for business continuity and crisis recovery is to have mirrored offsite duplicates of your data backups. Offsite backups are easily accessible, and if a restore is required, the process is quite fast and can be conducted in any of the hosting zones. 5 minute, 15 minute, and hourly backups are among the options for data retention and backup frequencies.

HIPAA Compliance Checklist

  • Do you have an SSL certificate that is up to date?
  • Is the website hosted by a HIPAA-compliant provider?
  • Have you encrypted your data in storage or transit?
  • Are your web applications HIPAA-compliant?
  • Have you established access restrictions?
  • Are you keeping track of your logs?
  • Do you keep a record of what you’ve done?
  • Have all of your vendors completed business associate contracts?
  • Do you have all of your PHI backed up?
  • Have you established policies and practices for data restoration and deletion?
  • Have you gotten patients’ permission before posting feedback on your website?
  • Is there a notice of privacy policies on your website?
  • Is your HIPAA policy available on your website?

Concluding Thoughts

Many firms, especially those in highly regulated industries like healthcare, collaborate with third parties on their information systems. Contracting with other companies isn’t just a technique to get rid of non-essential work; it’s also a way to have access to expertise that isn’t available in-house.

Hence, make sure to contact one of your experts for further details about your healthcare website.

 

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