Posted by: Kevin McNally
In this digital world, patients heavily rely on the internet to find physicians and care providers. If your medical practice’s online presence is out there for patients to find, then you are reaching a large cross section of people searching for medical services and increasing the likelihood that they choose you for their next appointment.
Once your website is out there and easy to find, it also needs to stay updated with all important information that will increase the chance that visitors who visit your site will actually make the appointment. Another very important thing to remember when it comes to your medical practice website is security. Make your website a safe place for current and potential patients who may potentially share personal information when making appointments and such.
Absolutely! A lot of small businesses, including medical practices, believe that they’re too small to be a target to hackers. But in reality, medical data is largely sought out by hackers and they actually target small medical practices, assuming they have little to no cybersecurity in place. Don’t let this be you. Protect your small medical practice from cyber-attacks with better security.
Security experts say that cyber criminals consider a person’s medical information more valuable than their credit card information. A person’s medical information can be used to buy expensive medical equipment or drugs for resale, or to create false insurance claims.
If you value trust and professionalism in your medical office, then you should value the same for your medical website. If your patient or potential patient’s information is compromised because of a data breach on your website, all of the hard work of building trust within your practice can quickly fade.
Most patients enjoy the ease of making appointments with you online, and typically contact forms have fields to fill in name, phone number, email address and such. Medical websites with a contact form often have a comment section as well, where a patient can list the reason for the appointment, or symptoms and concerns of potential illness or injury. These bits of information are considered “Protected Health Information” (PHI) by HIPAA guidelines and thus the medical practice is required to uphold rigid privacy and data security standards.
HIPPA guidelines exist to protect your patients’ data and personal information from data breaches, whether in hard copy form or stored/transmitted electronically. Ignoring these guidelines can cost you more than lost data. It can cost you a lot of money (negligence is a finable offense), and can also cost you your reputation as a medical practice.
The first step in bringing your medical website closer to HIPPA compliance is SSL (Secure Socket Layer) encryption. SSL technology encrypts the data traveling through the internet between your visitor’s browser and your website server, preventing unauthorized access. If it ever happens that a cybercriminal intercepts any data, they won’t be able to use or read the encrypted information when SSL is used on the website. Without this security measure, your patients’ data would be transmitted from their browser to your website server as clear text, which is easy for hackers to capture, read and use.
When you have SSL encryption for your medical website, visitors will see the padlock icon and the “https” in the address bar, giving them peace of mind that they can safely input their information.