The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is designed to improve access to healthcare insurance and streamline the flow of information. Protecting this information on the Web is crucial for hospitals to prevent data leaks and avoid penalties. Here are several tips to keep your website HIPAA compliant.
Know the HIPAA Compliance Laws
The first step is to know what all of the HIPAA compliance laws are. Keeping informed on HIPPA compliance laws can be confusing, and though you may be informed on some of them, it's certainly critical to take time to learn them all.
There are five main titles of the Act. Know each title that includes information about:
- Patient privacy and confidentiality
- Established standards for healthcare transactions
- Healthcare fraud and abuse
- Employer-provided insurance
Apply each rule and provision to the information that is presented on your website. The most basic rule is not to publish confidential patients' information on the site. Another rule is to install security measures that prevent data leaks.
Make Sure the Content Managers Know
Web content managers are responsible for maintaining the quality, privacy and security of your healthcare website. If you're not maintaining the site yourself, hire managers who also understand HIPAA laws. You don't want to monitor every single action that they make, especially if they upload large amounts of information onto the site. If they ignore or fail to understand one HIPAA rule, the website could be flagged and put the entire organization at risk for penalties.
Review the Site Regularly
Review your site regularly for errors and discrepancies. Ensure that the content managers are not compromising on the site's speed, efficiency or security. If you have patients filling out Web forms, make sure their data is encrypted. Only ask for the minimum amount of personal information if you must ask for it at all. Also, reassure your site users that their information is protected using advanced security measures.
Security is an important part of a healthcare website that must be reviewed closely. A minor or major data breach of patient data is costly to an organization's reputation and finances. Check that the security tools and protocols are working properly. Track the activities that occur on the site, such as a sudden loss of data or an unauthorized access to private sections.
Review HIPPA Compliance Laws Annually
Although federal laws rarely change, a major change could occur every few years or so. It's common for agencies to remove outdated or irrelevant provisions that are of little benefit to hospitals or patients. If you have a small practice and do not have the ability to hire several employees on a yearly basis to review your HIPPA compliance, you can turn to sites that allow you to check yourself.
HIPPA compliance is mandatory and not optional for anyone who runs a healthcare website. No site owner wants to hear that the site has been hacked and thousands of patients' forms have been stolen. This scenario could happen if you don't take the rules seriously, but it's all preventable if you do.