Here’s Why You Need to Build a HIPAA-Compliant Website
If you’re a medical practice, hospital, or healthcare professional, you know it’s essential to protect your patients with a secure website. You also understand that the American Health Information Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is relevant to safeguarding patient information.
With so many privacy breaches happening in the news these days, like last week’s MacAfee data leak, it may seem surprising that there are still those out there who haven’t taken steps to be HIPAA compliant.
The HIPAA Privacy Rule has created a lot of confusion for websites and businesses. The language is hard to understand and doesn’t make much sense if you don’t deal with it daily. This article will hopefully explain why it’s crucial to build a website that adheres to the rules of HIPAA, some ways to achieve this, and examples of what other companies have done.
A privacy and security policy, as well as procedures for handling data breaches, are mandated by covered entities under HIPAA. It also includes penalties for those who fail to do so. One way to ensure you’re HIPAA-compliant is to build a secure website that does not collect or store any patient information (even when using forms).
But what does it take to build a HIPAA-compliant website? This blog post will help you learn about the importance of this law and give you some tips for creating a website that is not only legal but also compliant.
What is a HIPAA-compliant website?
If you’re building a website for your practice, hospital, or health plan, you’ll want to make sure that your website is HIPAA-compliant. A HIPAA-compliant website should be completely secure and not store any patient information, even when using forms. While you won’t need to use the same technology as banks to keep your website safe, you can still take plenty of steps.
Using a free or open-source website builder, such as WordPress, maybe tempting as an alternative to costly custom software. However, if you plan to share patient information with other healthcare providers and business associates — which you need to do to be HIPAA-compliant — you’ll need to use a reputable web hosting company that does not keep server logs.
What are Server Logs?
Server logs are the files that your web host keeps on each website. It’s unlikely that you’ll find out where these files are located, but it is possible. It’s also possible that your website could be compromised due to server logs being leaked or subpoena-able by law enforcement or government agencies.
You can take the following steps to ensure your website is HIPAA-compliant:
Architecting a Secure Website
If you’re building a new website, start with a clean slate instead of choosing an existing web template or template system for your web pages. This will help to ensure that your website is HIPAA-compliant.
Choosing a Secure Web Hosting Company
If you’re building a new website, choose a web host that does not keep server logs. This way, you won’t have any data that can be subpoenaed or subpoenas served by law enforcement, government agencies, or the State’s Attorney Generals of Maryland, Connecticut, or New York.
Making Your Website HIPAA-Compliant
One way to ensure that your website is HIPAA-compliant is not to use any forms on your website. Forms send information requests back to the web host’s server logs, which can then be subpoenaed by law enforcement or government agencies. Using forms instead of text boxes will likely make it easier for you to scan or copy and paste information from documents into your website because forms don’t send any data across the wire.
Making Your Website HIPAA-Compliant With Forms
If you choose to use forms on your website, you’ll want to ensure that the document is kept on an SSL-encrypted page. Make sure that your form uses the latest version of HTML5 with a custom code snippet, and also make sure that you set the Secure Type response header.
Storing Your Website on a Private Server
If you’re building a new website, you’ll want to make sure that your web host is not keeping any server logs because they can be subpoenaed and hold information on the visitors who browse your website. Having no server logs will help to ensure that you are HIPAA-compliant.
Backing Up Your Website
If you’re building a new website, you should choose a web host that offers daily and weekly backups to keep your website safe from any data loss. Regular backups on hand will ensure that your website isn’t lost due to data breaches or accidentally deleted. You can use Sammy EHR software to help you handle patient information and billing in the health industry.
The above tips will go a long way in helping to make sure that your website is HIPAA-compliant. If you’re ever unsure about whether or not your website is HIPAA-compliant, then reach out to a business attorney today. You can visit Automating your HIPAA compliance for more details. If you’re interested in learning more about HIPAA, check out our blog now!