How to Ensure that Your Website Content Stays HIPAA Compliant

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By: Rahul Varshneya

Violating the guidelines mentioned in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and getting away with it is a thing of the past now. These days, violations are often subject to hefty fines. According to a recent report, HIPAA settlements reached a record $23 million in 2016 and have only been on the rise ever since. 

The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) amplified its HIPAA enforcement efforts big time in 2016. Not only did it set afloat a series of random compliance audits as an important fragment of the HIPAA compliance audit program, but it also increased the penalties for HIPAA violations by close to 10%.

This means any organization that collects and transmits electronic protected health information (ePHI) should be on high alert. If your business hasn’t taken the necessary steps to become and remain HIPAA compliant, the time is now. Ignoring these important precautions and practicing outside the law is only going to put your entire organization at further risk .

So then, with so many things to be considered all at once, how do we move about it with ease? Let us look at certain important things to remember when ensuring that your healthcare website remains HIPAA Compliant with respect to the content on it.

Get well-versed with HIPAA compliance guidelines

Firstly, one needs to make sure that all the people working on the content team, right from the writers to the managers, are well-versed with guidelines of the Compliance. Professional medical writers can always help guide administrators and clinicians in writing compelling content that meets HIPAA guidelines.

The HIPAA Security Rule along with the HIPAA Privacy Rule form the very foundation of the HIPAA regulations. These rules explain when and how healthcare professionals, lawyers, or anyone who accesses your Protected Health Information (PHI) can or cannot make use of that data. Therefore, knowing them facilitates immense ease when writing anything related to the Compliance.

While HIPAA does create strict boundaries, healthcare institutions and practitioners can easily create content that is not only compliant but at the same time interesting too.

Get rid of patient identifiers

Always make it a point to delete any information that could identify or link back to the described individual. Start with the obvious identifiers, such as patient addresses and names, social security numbers, record numbers and photographs. Remove specific mental and physical health details, information about payment for services, and anything else that could track readers back to the said individual.

Even the slightest detail, such as the location and  visit time, could lead to potentially exposing a patient’s identity. The best way to avoid HIPAA compliance trouble is securing a patient’s consent in advance, even before content is created. 

Be cautious when implementing storytelling within your content marketing strategy 

Storytelling remains to be one of the most engaging and compelling ways of interacting with patients and other health providers. It also evokes the strong emotions of clinical experience.

Similarly, narrative writing forms an integral part of an effective content marketing strategy for healthcare businesses since it reassures patients that the facility or clinician has experience in treating the condition. 

In other words, personal narratives and case studies appeal to patients and doctors because being sick and providing medical care are highly emotional experiences, and narratives create an empathetic, caring tone by breathing life into otherwise boring and dry medical terminology.

Stick to HIPAA compliant hosting servers when dealing with PHI

Ben Walker, CEO and Founder of Transcription Outsourcing, “You have to be on the right HIPAA compliant servers to protect your clients information, and doing the research and checking references upfront is way easier than paying tens of thousands in penalty for one wrong decision.”

If your business handles PHI in any form, choosing HIPAA-compliant cloud storage is a mandatory requirement for ensuring the safety and security of cloud hosted data. Try to choose a platform that powers healthcare technology systems of all sizes- from small startups to large medical groups- considering future growth of your business.

These platforms run on deployment workflow most of the time, and their compliance validation engines streamline every component of the HIPAA Security, Privacy and Breach Notification Rules. They also provide comprehensive packages, including audit trails, backups and even employee training as and when need be.

Conclusion

The content you create only renders itself valuable if it reaches the target audience you have written it for, that too organically. Optimizing your content to suit the guidelines mentioned in HIPAA Compliance so that it ranks on the search engine’s result pages is equally important to promote discoverability, boost conversions and bring in relevant traffic for your healthcare business.

1 COMMENT

  1. The use of digital technology in healthcare provision has become more imperative now than ever before , digital technology devices and tools ranging from FIT BITS or wearable devices, SMART PHONEDS, , AI POWERED PLATFORMS/ SOFTWARES, COMPUTERIZED DATABASES AND NETWORKS AETC. can play several important roles in healthcare provision notable among tem are: They can compensate for the perennial shortfall in the number of health workers across the sector by performing human cognitive functions or acting on behalf of humans through artificial intelligent software’ or platforms thereby filling that void., they can also complement the efforts of humans in health delivery thereby increasing productivity, efficiency, accuracy and precision., they can also be used to monitor the health conditions of clients covered under a particular health insurance scheme especially those prone to sudden attacks from diseases such as HYPERTENSION, DIABETES, ASTHMA, etc. for quick and rapid response from their healthcare providers regardless of their locations.. In a typical scenario specially designed FIT BITS could be issued out to the clients under the scheme to be worn at regular intervals for the monitoring of their vital signs. . These digital wearable devices should be able to record data such as temperature ( acting as thermometer), blood pressure (acting as sphygmomanometer), breathing rate ( acting as respirometer) etc. , it could then be connected to their smartphones with a cable or wire and then synchronized with the operation system of the phone via a mobile app for the phone to simultaneously record data from the FIT BIT ,, the recorded vital signs data could then be transferred in real time onto the healthcare provider’s phone via automated messaging system similar to a quick response code for monitoring and if necessary issue out rapid health advice or instructions via TEXT, SMS OR VOICE back to the client’s phone or even an ambulance pick up , since the client’s smartphone is powered by a registered SIM card with unique identification details such as name and location, the response will be targeted and precise.. On the other hand, a specially designed Bluetooth device with an embedded mobile app from the healthcare provider could be connected to the computerized system or networks of the hospital to receive the vital signs data in real time on the computer screens for monitoring and quick response by the health professional… Such a health delivery system will also promote TELEHEALTH which will cut out unnecessary visits by clients since in some cases all what is needed is a piece of advice or instructions that could be delivered via mobile phones it will also save the patient or clients from the stress and pressure from having to commute to their healthcare providers. Digital technology can therefore greatly help in the attainment of a more efficient, productive and precise healthcare delivery.

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