HIPAA is one of the scariest words in the medical profession. nearly every nurse and administrative staff member has a Horror Story about extraordinary actions that needed to be taken to satisfy the laws requirements. Ever since its passage in the 1990s, medical professionals have had to change their daily routine in order to accommodate this law. This concern extends past simple online and paper records and to the realm of websites. More and more medical professionals are fretting over the possibility that there website designs will not fit the strictures of the HIPAA law. These medical professionals should worry no longer. There are a number of steps that medical professionals can take in order to ensure that their best orthodontic websites meet all of HIPAA’s website regulations.
What is HIPAA?
HIPAA is the law that governs the way medical companies handle the private information of their patients and customers. This law was passed to govern the process of medical record digitization that began in the 1980s and has continued in one way or another to the present day. It sets strict guidelines for any companies that want to handle this information. The law forces companies to go through extensive reviews on policy shifts to make sure that all of their data is protected. Individuals who work for these companies have to be specially trained and educated (opens in a new window) in how to keep HIPAA information safe.
Such training protocols extend to the websites that companies use. Medical and insurance companies have begun to use online portals more often to allow individuals to access their appointment times and all of their test results. In the field of orthodontics, these test results may include x-rays, surgery updates, and all of the information pertaining to braces or retainers. Many practices attempt to display this information in a user-friendly way in order to prioritize patient satisfaction. However, these efforts have to be done to the standards of HIPAA regulations. Missing those regulations could result in considerable fines and a lack of privileges for medical data.
Ways to ensure HIPAA website compliance
The key to the best orthodontics website design is user accessibility within the confines of the law. There should be enough on a website for an orthodontist so that patients are pleased and they are not held back by bureaucratic red tape. A web designer should focus on sleek, clean designs that emphasize the professional nature of the company and the high quality of service that it will provide.
There should be individual buttons for every need that a person will have. Some orthodontics website design professionals may find it helpful to add a chat function that allows and orthodontists staff to interact with potential patients and answer their questions. All of these factors should be implemented with the restrictions of HIPAA in the background. Web designers may want to add a tab (opens in a new window) on a section detailing the ways that HIPAA affects the company in the practice.
But this information should not be the main focus of the website. Individuals are not visiting a website for an orthodontist in order to find out more about the minutiae of healthcare privacy laws. They are visiting the website in order to gain information about services offered by an orthodontist or to learn more about the profession in general. They may also be visiting to learn more about their own situation or to communicate with someone from the company staff.
The first step to implementing HIPAA in a orthodontics website atmosphere is to determine whether or not a company actually needs to follow these regulations. Companies should analyze the information that they use on a regular basis and all of the regulations associated with that information. If a company does not use protected information, they should go through the same website building platforms that any other company would use in the medical field.
They should not worry about the stringent constraints (opens in a new window) of the HIPAA law. If a company does use HIPAA-protected information, it needs to use consultants and technology professionals who are experienced in the field of medical information protection. The company needs to have an entire set of policies and procedures that govern how its website handles private date. There needs to be a system of protections in order to ensure that only doctors, patients, and legally permitted individuals can view certain pieces of medical information.
Care also needs to be taken in determining which how passwords are managed and how information is destroyed as dictated by HIPAA regulations. Companies that require HIPAA regulations also need to be aware of their cyber security protocol and plan. A company that has HIPAA information leaked after a cyber attack (opens in a new window) is still liable to a certain degree for that leak.
The best way to avoid the associated legal headache is to have a plan and implement that plan for protecting critical information within the company. Companies may need firewalls, extensive backup operations, and a whitelist antivirus system to keep out on potential malware. Recent news stories have highlighted the potential headaches that both companies and government operations face when they cannot access their data because of poor cybersecurity planning.
Companies that are considering the HIPAA compliant orthodontics websites should not be overwhelmed by the massive amount of red tape and regulations that are associated with the law. This law is meant to protect both patients and companies from a considerable amount of legal fallout if private information is leaked. Companies should not worry or complain about the law and should instead spend the time and money needed to mold their website and other products around the law. They must devise a plan specifically to implement HIPAA and then change and modify that plan whenever possible over time. The plan must be flexible and must not be directly tied to anyone employee who may leave the company at any time. With this plan, orthodontics firms and associated companies will be able to embrace technology (opens in a new window) while also pleasing regulators and providing the best service possible to patients.
If you need help to get your orthodontic website HIPAA compliant, contact us today.
Orthodontic Websites – Is Your Website HIPAA Compliant?