The process of assessing your business when it comes to HIPAA Compliance will likely present you with the opportunity to review all the components that contribute to your professional structure and setup. This will likely include a website.
Does a Website Fall Under HIPAA Regulations?
If a website is used to collect and process protected health information (PHI) then yes, it does fall under HIPAA regulations. That includes storing and transferring that data. An example of this might be if you have a patient portal or login where they can schedule appointments and upload corresponding documentation. However, if you are using the website only as a platform to promote your business, such as location, contact information, hours, and modalities of treatments, then it does not fall under HIPAA. Determining the functionality of your website will determine how you proceed in building the site to be compliant or not.
How Do I Make a HIPAA Compliant Website?
Having a secure website with an SSL certification is of the utmost importance. SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer and is the standard in technology for safeguarding an internet connection as well as the information contained on a site. This certificate will aid in the prevention of a data breach and compromised PHI.
Contracts must be in place with the third-party organizations that you are engaging with to build and interact with your site. That can include the website builder, the debt collection agency that acts on your behalf of bill payments via the portal (or as a result of unpaid bills), and any other business associates that you utilize for the website.
Using a HIPAA-compliant web hosting service is also a requirement. You should be able to request and receive their HIPAA compliance information upon request. Additionally, any forms, chat services, appointment platforms, or other add-ons that you use on your site should be encrypted and secure.
The maintenance of your website will also need to be HIPAA Compliant. This means that access of individuals to the site and the PHI contained there should be restricted to only those who need it to fulfill their job requirements. Additional details about this are contained in the HIPAA Privacy Rule.
A final note about your HIPAA Compliant website; train your team! The success of a HIPAA program is not only in making sure that you have identified and remediated your risks but also in making sure that your employees know how to maintain the rules and regulations of HIPAA. That includes responding appropriately to any comments made on your website or social media platforms. If you would like to learn more about how to do this, HIPAA Secure Now can help!