HIPAA eCommerce

HIPAA eCommerce Catalogs and Custom Customer Experiences

Updated  |  5 min read

Intro to HIPAA Catalogs

How big is your catalog? Whether you have a single product that’s the core of your business or thousands of products that constantly change, you have to find the best way to present them so that customers get the information they need while delivering an easy purchasing experience.

Of course, if your business is a CE—covered entity—and subject to the HIPAA Security Rule, then it’s imperative that your eCommerce platform or CMS has extra security that protects the information you’re gathering. But gathering this information can lead to extra steps that a catalog must accommodate, something that many off-the-shelf websites and portals just can’t do.

Let’s look at the benefits that can be gained from adjusting the product catalogs that handle ePHI, or electronic protected health information. This applies to HIPAA mobile apps, portals, or websites through which customers purchase products.

using hipaa product catalog

Who’s Using HIPAA Product Catalogs?

Internet eCommerce is generally broken down into two categories:

  • Services – “Give us a call” businesses, such as roofers, dentists, and (usually) local businesses that want to provide a service.
  • Products – “Buy now” businesses that sell products, from a small business all the way up to Walmart’s website.

These categories hold true for businesses that are collecting ePHI as well. Doctor’s offices collect HIPAA-covered data the moment a patient answers any online questions, while pharmacies and medical device vendors determine eligibility—often in the form of a prescription—for people seeking their products.

The Problems Product Catalogs Face

There are three primary problems that many catalogs face. The first is design, which has been a problem since the invention of eCommerce platforms. While the design of product catalogs has improved over the years, many are now trying to get too much information about each product on the results page before customers even get to the product details page.

The second problem is that the site doesn’t change the catalog based on the user. This can be very important if a user isn’t allowed to purchase a product based on their address or the IP address.

The third problem is that most off-the-shelf catalogs just can't add steps that need to happen after a person hits the “Add To Cart” button, such as getting a sign off that they’ve read about the side effects or that they will need to upload a prescription in order to purchase a product.

product catalog challenges

What Your Product Page Should Do

It's pretty obvious that every product catalog will be different depending on the needs of the business. Unfortunately, no one told many off-the-shelf systems! Here are some of the primary ways that the right eCommerce platform or CMS can accommodate many of the tasks associated with ePHI data.

Dynamic Product Catalogs

Dynamic Product Catalogs

Product catalogs can be dynamic, meaning that not every catalog will be the same for every customer.

  • Region Restrictions – Some states or countries have restrictions on items that can be shipped to their residents. This is very common with pharmaceuticals, where certain medications can’t legally be shipped to the customer. In that case, you could choose to not include these items on a catalog page if the customer’s physical address or IP address says that they are ineligible.
  • Add-On Items – Once a person has entered their prescription, product catalog options can change based on the ePHI data that they have just entered. If they’re ordering three prescriptions, the HIPAA eCommerce platform may present them with a weekly or monthly pill organizer. If they are ordering muscle relaxers, incontinence pads could be a handy add-on item.
  • Previous Purchases – Customers will often want to see products that they’ve seen before, which means that you can tailor their product catalog with similar products or accessory products.

Guide Customers Through the Process

Customers hate being confused. If they have done their research and decided on your product, they want every step to be as easy as possible. There are few things worse than a customer thinking “I’m just trying to give you my money, why won’t you take it?” and then being unable to do so.

That’s why it’s so important to set customer expectations and guide a customer through a process. If it takes a prescription to purchase a product, let them know before they need to start the process. If they are completing a questionnaire—information that is must remain HIPAA compliant—they need to know why they are being asked for such information.

If a customer is entering information to find out if they are a good candidate for a procedure, guiding them through the process means collecting a considerable amount of ePHI. If they are eligible, they can be given contact information in a “surgeon finder” map. If they aren’t eligible, you can tell them why and offer alternatives.

guiding customers
web design

High End Web Design

Because so many off-the-shelf or Cloud-based eCommerce platforms are trying to appeal to the largest market, variation on design are often limited. The product catalog might offer too much, or too little, information for your specific design needs.

When you’re working with a more advanced and tailored eCommerce platform or CMS, you’ll be able to get the high-end web design that not only looks the best but also entices your customers to make the purchase. Many product catalogs overwhelm the design with too much information before a customer even gets to a product details page.

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Stephen Beer is a Content Writer at Clarity Ventures and has written about various tech industries for nearly a decade. He is determined to demystify HIPAA, integration, and eCommerce with easy-to-read, easy-to-understand articles to help businesses make the best decisions.