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The Dangers of Working with a Web Developer Who Doesn't Understand HIPAA

By Caitlin Malone on May, 1 2018
Caitlin Malone

Caitlin is a born and raised FL girl. Her passion for creating digital marketing content shines brighter than the Florida sun. Known as THE grammar guru, she has a keen eye for catching the most minute mistakes when it comes to marketing copy. When she isn't knee deep in content, she's living her best life as a fur mom to her three dogs Yuki, Soba, and Kuma.

Keeping patient data safe has never been more important, especially in light of the major corporate data breaches continuing to make headlines. And as we digitize more and more of the healthcare process, discretion becomes even more vital.

From your clinic's homepage to your patient portals, and everything in between, staying HIPAA compliant should be a top priority—which is precisely why your digital team needs to understand the law inside and out. Working with a web developer who doesn't is a dangerous game that could result in hefty fines or your clinic being audited.

What Does HIPAA Require?

Designed with privacy in mind, HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) is meant to protect private medical information. This extends directly to digital records and electronic transactions. In other words, it gives patients peace of mind that their personal health information is being protected at all times.

Medical providers can violate HIPAA in a number of ways, such as disclosing patient information without consent or mishandling medical records, but our digital world is making it harder and harder to avoid compliance issues. Berkshire Hospital Review says to be extra careful about the following:

  • Devices like smartphones, tablets and laptops that hold private data and can get lost or stolen
  • Texting confidential information, which is inherently susceptible to cyber security threats
  • Posting a patient photo to your website or social media account without permission

The list doesn't stop here, but it probably raises some valid concerns around how you're managing your website and social media platforms.

Why Hire a HIPAA-Savvy Web Developer?

Just as you specialize in healthcare, a web developer's area of expertise is creating and launching websites. The problem is that not all web developers are experts when it comes to HIPAA. This is one reason many medical providers are tempted to take a do-it-yourself approach with their clinic's website, but if you don't have the right training, you're likely to botch the job.

It's like a patient trying to treat and diagnose themselves—it's always wiser to go to a pro. (Launching an effective webpage is an extremely strategic endeavor. When done the right way, it's also a powerful marketing tool.)

Going with a web developer who doesn't understand the law could result in a website that's not HIPAA compliant. You may even find yourself on the hook for heavy fines along with the headache of undergoing an audit. According to MD Magazine, staying compliant usually comes down to thinking ahead in terms of potential danger zones. Hiring the right web developer is an easy way to sidestep just that.

Your best protection is to go with a full-service marketing agency that fully understands the delicate nuances of the medical profession, such as Ren Scott Creative.

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