Posted: October 18, 2021
Healthcare providers must ensure the protection of personal health information (PHI) at all times. Anytime patients share their name, phone number, address, medical records, lab results, or other personal information, it is up to the provider to make sure no one accesses this data without permission.
On April 14, 2003, enforcement of the Privacy Rule began for most HIPAA covered entities. On April 20, 2005, the HHS Office for Civil Rights began enforcing the Security Rule. Designed to ensure the protection and security of PHI, the Privacy and Security Rules apply to all healthcare entities that transmit PHI information electronically. This includes healthcare providers, health plans, healthcare clearinghouses, research institutes, and government agencies.
Businesses in the medical industry face unique challenges when it comes to developing and maintaining a HIPAA compliant website. This is especially true for healthcare providers that wish to share information including lab results on a patient portal. Some healthcare providers choose to share PHI with other providers. A provider portal simplifies the process of transferring data from primary care providers to specialists. This saves time, reduces the chance of human error, and enables patients to receive treatment sooner.
However, the more information a provider exchanges electronically, the greater the risk of that information being collected and used without permission. Even if this happens by mistake, the provider could face a HIPAA violation. In addition to damaging their reputation, this can cost the provider a significant amount of money in fines.
Although not all inclusive, businesses in the healthcare industry must ensure the following protections when developing a HIPAA-compliant website.
Businesses in the healthcare industry must have a Secure Sockets Layers (SSL) certificate for their website. This certificate lets visitors know they’re visiting a legitimate website. It also ensures the encryption of transmitted data. An SSL certificate reduces the chance that sensitive information like credit card numbers, usernames, passwords, email addresses, medical information, and other personal information gets tampered with or stolen. Although important for every business, an SSL certificate is crucial for any business in the healthcare industry.
Businesses in the healthcare industry must develop processes and protections to ensure only individuals with authorization can access patient data. Most healthcare providers have employees sign a privacy agreement. When working with outside businesses and third-party vendors, these individuals should sign a HIPAA Business Associate Agreement before accessing any part of the website.
Sometimes clients request that healthcare providers permanently remove their information from the database. Healthcare businesses need a way to do this quickly. When requested, providers must remove and destroy all patient data including data on back-up servers.
In addition to ensuring the proper encryption of data submitted on the website, healthcare businesses need to also ensure the encryption of data in storage.
Businesses in the healthcare industry must ensure the continuous protection of patient data. Working with an experienced healthcare website designer can help ensure HIPAA compliance. Let’s Talk Interactive has years of experience creating HIPAA compliant websites, patient portals, provider portals, and more for businesses in the healthcare industry. Please contact us for information about our website development services.