HIPAA eCommerce

HIPAA Compliant Infrastructure

Updated  |  11 min read

HIPAA Compliant Infrastructure: Ensuring Security and Privacy of Patient Data

The Basics of HIPAA Compliance: Safeguarding Patient Data

The protection of patient data is of utmost importance in the healthcare industry. To ensure the privacy and security of patient information, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was enacted. HIPAA establishes legal requirements and standards that healthcare organizations must adhere to in order to safeguard patient data. This article aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of HIPAA compliance, emphasizing its role in protecting patient privacy. Through real-life examples and scenarios, we will explore the importance of compliance and the potential consequences of non-compliance in the healthcare sector.

Understanding HIPAA compliant infrastructure for ecommerce and portals

HIPAA, enacted in 1996, is a federal law in the United States that sets forth guidelines and regulations for the protection of sensitive patient health information. Its primary objectives are to streamline healthcare processes, ensure the portability of health insurance coverage, and safeguard patient data privacy. HIPAA applies to various entities within the healthcare industry, including healthcare providers, health plans, and healthcare clearinghouses. Compliance with HIPAA is crucial for organizations to avoid legal issues, maintain patient trust, and protect sensitive information from unauthorized access or disclosure.

Finding a turn-key HIPAA compliance capable software platform doesn't have to be hard. Clarity's HIPAA eCommerce platform can be purchased as a SAAS based headless HIPAA solution that can be implemented in as little as 2-4 weeks and cost as little as $999/month.

The Role of HIPAA in Safeguarding Patient Data

HIPAA plays a vital role in safeguarding patient data by establishing strict guidelines for the handling, storage, and transmission of protected health information (PHI). PHI includes any individually identifiable health information, such as medical records, treatment histories, and personal demographics. By enforcing regulations related to privacy, security, and data breach notification, HIPAA ensures that healthcare organizations take necessary precautions to protect patient data from unauthorized access, theft, or misuse. Compliance with HIPAA guidelines helps build trust between patients and healthcare providers, fostering a secure environment for the exchange of sensitive health information.

Legal Requirements and Standards of HIPAA Compliance

HIPAA compliance entails adhering to a set of legal requirements and standards aimed at protecting patient privacy. These include the Privacy Rule, Security Rule, and Breach Notification Rule. The Privacy Rule governs the use and disclosure of PHI, ensuring that patients have control over their health information. The Security Rule focuses on safeguarding electronic PHI (ePHI: electronic protected health information) through administrative, physical, and technical safeguards. The Breach Notification Rule mandates healthcare organizations to promptly notify affected individuals, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and, in certain cases, the media, in the event of a breach. Compliance with these rules is essential to maintain patient confidentiality and avoid penalties.

Protected Health Information (PHI)

Protected Health Information (PHI) encompasses a wide range of data elements, including patients' names, addresses, birthdates, social security numbers, medical records, and payment information. Any information that can be used to identify an individual's health condition or healthcare services is considered PHI. Healthcare organizations must handle PHI with utmost care, ensuring secure storage, transmission, and proper access controls. Unauthorized disclosure of PHI can lead to severe consequences, including reputational damage, legal repercussions, and financial penalties.

Examples of HIPAA Violations and Consequences

HIPAA violations can have severe consequences for healthcare organizations. Let's consider a scenario where an employee at a hospital accesses the medical records of a celebrity without a legitimate reason. This unauthorized access violates HIPAA's Privacy Rule and compromises patient privacy. If discovered, the hospital may face legal action, financial penalties, damage to its reputation, and loss of patient trust. Similarly, a data breach resulting from inadequate security measures, such as a stolen laptop containing unencrypted ePHI (electronic protected health information), can result in significant fines and legal consequences.

Importance of Compliance for Healthcare Organizations

Compliance with HIPAA regulations is vital for healthcare organizations to protect patient privacy, maintain trust, and avoid legal repercussions. Non-compliance not only exposes sensitive patient data to potential security breaches but also tarnishes the reputation of healthcare providers. Patients rely on healthcare organizations to safeguard their personal information, and failure to do so can lead to loss of trust, negative publicity, and potential legal action. By complying with HIPAA rules, organizations demonstrate their commitment to patient privacy and establish themselves as reliable custodians of sensitive health information.

Implementing HIPAA Compliance Measures

Healthcare organizations must take proactive steps to implement HIPAA compliance measures. This involves conducting a comprehensive risk assessment to identify vulnerabilities and develop appropriate safeguards. These safeguards may include technical solutions like encryption, firewalls, and access controls, as well as administrative measures such as policies, employee training, and regular audits. By implementing these measures, organizations can create a culture of compliance and minimize the risk of data breaches and HIPAA violations.

HIPAA Compliance and Technology

Technology plays a crucial role in HIPAA compliance. Healthcare organizations rely on electronic systems for storing, transmitting, and accessing patient data. Implementing secure and HIPAA-compliant technologies, such as encrypted communication channels and secure cloud storage, helps mitigate the risk of data breaches and unauthorized access. However, it is important to note that technology alone is not sufficient. Adequate policies, procedures, and employee training are equally important to ensure comprehensive compliance.

Employee Training and Awareness

Employees are often the weakest link when it comes to maintaining HIPAA compliance. Human error or lack of awareness can lead to inadvertent disclosures or security breaches. Healthcare organizations should prioritize employee training and awareness programs to educate staff about HIPAA regulations, privacy best practices, and the importance of safeguarding patient data. Regular training sessions, email reminders, and ongoing education can significantly reduce the risk of non-compliance and enhance the overall security posture of the organization.

Business Associate Agreements

HIPAA compliance extends beyond healthcare organizations themselves. Business associates, such as billing companies, IT service providers, and even cloud services and storage vendors, also handle PHI and must comply with HIPAA regulations. Healthcare organizations should establish Business Associate Agreements (BAAs) with these entities, outlining their responsibilities and ensuring that PHI is handled securely. BAAs help maintain accountability and ensure that all parties involved in handling PHI are committed to HIPAA compliance.

Breach Notification and Response

In the event of a breach, healthcare organizations have a legal obligation to notify affected individuals, the HHS, and, potentially, the media. Prompt and transparent breach notification allows affected individuals to take necessary precautions to protect themselves from potential harm. Healthcare organizations should have a well-defined breach response plan in place, including clear procedures for investigating and reporting breaches. Timely and appropriate actions following a breach help mitigate the impact on affected individuals and demonstrate the organization's commitment to patient safety.

Auditing and Monitoring Compliance

Regular auditing and monitoring of HIPAA compliance are essential to ensure ongoing adherence to regulations. Conducting internal audits, reviewing access logs, and performing risk assessments help identify potential vulnerabilities and areas for improvement. By monitoring compliance and addressing any issues promptly, healthcare organizations can maintain a high level of security and demonstrate their commitment to protecting patient data.

Penalties for Non-Compliance

Non-compliance with HIPAA can result in significant penalties. The Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the enforcing agency for HIPAA, has the authority to investigate complaints and conduct audits. Penalties for non-compliance can range from fines to criminal charges, depending on the severity of the violation. The financial penalties can be substantial, with amounts varying based on the level of negligence and the number of individuals affected. Healthcare organizations must prioritize compliance to avoid these penalties and protect their reputation.

Ensuring Continuous Compliance

HIPAA compliance is not a one-time effort; it requires ongoing commitment and vigilance. Healthcare organizations should regularly review and update their policies, procedures, and technologies to keep pace with evolving threats and regulatory changes. Staying informed about the latest developments in HIPAA regulations and industry best practices is essential to ensure continuous compliance and maintain the highest level of patient data security.

Importance of HIPAA Compliant Infrastructure

The healthcare industry has witnessed a significant shift towards eCommerce platforms for the seamless exchange of patient information and services. However, in this digital landscape, the protection of sensitive patient data becomes paramount. This article emphasizes the crucial role of a HIPAA compliant infrastructure in healthcare eCommerce platforms and highlights the severe consequences that can arise from non-compliance. It will explore the components that contribute to a secure and compliant infrastructure and delve into the significance of data encryption, secure transmission, access controls, user authentication, and physical security measures.

The Consequences of Non-Compliance

Non-compliance with HIPAA regulations can lead to severe consequences for healthcare organizations. One of the most significant risks is the potential for data breaches, which can result in the exposure of sensitive patient information. Beyond compromising patient privacy, these breaches can result in substantial financial penalties, loss of reputation, and legal ramifications. Healthcare organizations must recognize the potential consequences and understand the importance of building a secure infrastructure to ensure the protection of patient data throughout the eCommerce process.

The Significance of a Secure and Compliant Infrastructure

A secure and compliant infrastructure is the foundation for maintaining HIPAA compliance in healthcare eCommerce platforms. It provides the necessary framework to safeguard patient data and prevent unauthorized access or breaches. By establishing robust security measures and adhering to industry regulations, healthcare organizations can demonstrate their commitment to patient privacy and establish trust with their customers. A secure infrastructure not only protects sensitive information but also ensures the integrity and availability of healthcare data throughout the eCommerce process.

Components of a Secure and Compliant Infrastructure

A secure and compliant infrastructure consists of several key components that work together to protect patient data. These components include data encryption and secure transmission, access controls, user authentication mechanisms, and physical security measures. Let's explore each component in detail and understand their role in ensuring HIPAA compliance.

Data Encryption and Secure Transmission

Data encryption plays a critical role in maintaining the confidentiality and security of patient information. Encryption algorithms are used to transform sensitive data into an unreadable format, ensuring that even if unauthorized individuals gain access to the data, they cannot decipher its contents. Encrypting data at rest and in transit provides an additional layer of protection against potential threats. Secure transmission protocols, such as HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) and secure FTP (File Transfer Protocol), ensure that data is securely transmitted between systems, minimizing the risk of interception or tampering.

Access Controls and User Authentication

Access controls and user authentication mechanisms are crucial for limiting data access to authorized individuals. Strong user authentication ensures that only authenticated users can access sensitive patient data. Two-factor authentication, for example, requires users to provide additional verification, such as a code sent to their mobile device, along with their password. Role-based access controls further enhance security by granting different levels of data access based on users' roles and responsibilities within the organization. These controls prevent unauthorized individuals from accessing or altering patient data, reducing the risk of data breaches and unauthorized disclosures.

Physical Security Measures

In addition to digital security measures, physical security plays a vital role in maintaining a HIPAA compliant infrastructure. Healthcare organizations must implement physical safeguards to protect the infrastructure where patient data is stored. Secure data centers with controlled access, video surveillance systems, and restricted entry to server rooms are essential components of physical security. These measures ensure that only authorized personnel can access the infrastructure, reducing the risk of physical theft, unauthorized access, or damage to equipment. By implementing robust physical security measures, organizations can safeguard patient data and mitigate the potential risks associated with physical breaches.

The Role of Data Encryption and Secure Transmission

Data encryption and secure transmission are fundamental aspects of maintaining HIPAA compliance in healthcare eCommerce platforms. Encryption algorithms convert sensitive patient data into an unreadable format using complex mathematical algorithms. This ensures that even if an unauthorized person gains access to the data, they cannot interpret or use it without the decryption key. Encryption protects patient data at rest, stored within databases or systems, and during transit, when data is being transmitted between different systems. Secure transmission protocols, such as HTTPS and secure FTP, add an extra layer of protection by encrypting data while it is being transferred, minimizing the risk of interception or unauthorized access.

For example, let's consider a scenario where a patient's electronic health records are being transmitted from a healthcare provider to a specialist for consultation. Without encryption and secure transmission protocols, the patient's sensitive medical information could be intercepted by malicious actors during transit. However, by implementing encryption and secure transmission protocols, the patient's sensitive healthcare data remains protected and confidential throughout the transfer process.

Ensuring Access Controls and User Authentication

Access controls and user authentication mechanisms are essential components of a HIPAA compliant infrastructure. Strong user authentication ensures that only authorized individuals can access sensitive patient data, reducing the risk of unauthorized access or data breaches. Two-factor authentication, which requires users to provide two separate pieces of identification, adds an extra layer of security by verifying the user's identity through a combination of passwords, biometrics, or security tokens. Password policies, such as enforcing complex passwords and regular password updates, further enhance security by minimizing the risk of password-related vulnerabilities.

Role-based access controls (RBAC) provide granular control over data access based on users' roles and responsibilities within the organization. For example, healthcare providers may have access to complete patient records, while administrative staff may only have access to specific administrative functions. RBAC ensures that individuals can access and modify only the information necessary to perform their job functions, reducing the risk of unauthorized disclosures or breaches.

Consider a scenario where a nurse needs to access a patient's medical records to administer medication. Role-based access controls restrict the nurse's access to only the relevant patient information required for medication administration, ensuring that sensitive data remains protected. Similarly, if a malicious actor gains unauthorized access to a user's account, strong user authentication mechanisms, such as two-factor authentication, can prevent them from accessing the patient data even if they have obtained the user's password.

The Importance of Physical Security Measures

While digital security measures are crucial, physical security measures also play a significant role in maintaining a HIPAA compliant infrastructure. Healthcare organizations must protect the physical infrastructure where patient data is stored to prevent unauthorized access, theft, or damage. Secure data centers are designed with multiple layers of physical security, including access control systems, video surveillance, and environmental controls. Restricted access to server rooms ensures that only authorized personnel can physically access the servers and network infrastructure.

For example, consider a scenario where a healthcare organization stores patient data in an on-premises server room. Restricted access to the server room, controlled by electronic keycards or biometric authentication, ensures that only authorized personnel can enter the room. Video surveillance systems monitor any activities within the server room, providing an additional layer of security and enabling organizations to identify any suspicious behavior or potential breaches.

Backup and Disaster Recovery: Ensuring Security and Compliance in Healthcare eCommerce

In today's digital landscape, where healthcare organizations handle vast amounts of sensitive patient data, robust backup and disaster recovery mechanisms play a crucial role in maintaining a HIPAA compliant infrastructure with robust, HIPAA compliant cloud solutions and hosting services. The loss or damage of patient data can have severe consequences, including compromised privacy, financial penalties, and reputational damage. This article explores the significance of backup and disaster recovery in ensuring the protection of patient data and maintaining business continuity in the healthcare eCommerce sector.

Robust Backup and Disaster Recovery Mechanisms

Regular Data Backups

Regular data backups are fundamental to protecting patient data from loss or corruption. By creating frequent backups, healthcare organizations can restore data in the event of accidental deletion, hardware failure, or cyber attacks. Backups should encompass all critical systems and databases containing patient information, ensuring comprehensive data protection.

Off-site Storage

Storing backups in an off-site location is crucial for data resilience. Off-site storage safeguards data from physical disasters, such as fires or floods, that could affect the primary data center. It ensures that even in the face of catastrophic events, patient data remains intact and recoverable.

Disaster Recovery Plans

Disaster recovery plans outline the procedures and strategies for restoring IT infrastructure and operations after a disruptive event. These plans include step-by-step instructions, roles and responsibilities of personnel, and predefined recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs). Well-defined and tested disaster recovery plans minimize downtime, enabling healthcare organizations to resume operations swiftly.

Business Continuity and Minimizing Disruptions

A robust backup and disaster recovery strategy ensures business continuity by minimizing the impact of potential disruptions. By implementing effective mechanisms, healthcare eCommerce platforms hosting providers can maintain their services, fulfill patient needs, and prevent financial losses. It instills confidence in both patients and stakeholders, demonstrating the organization or web hosting service provider's commitment to data protection and uninterrupted operations.

Auditing and Logging

Significance of Auditing and Logging

Auditing and logging mechanisms are essential for maintaining HIPAA compliance in healthcare eCommerce platforms. They provide a detailed record of user activities and system events, offering transparency and accountability. Auditing and logging help track access to patient data, detect potential security breaches, and enable timely response to incidents.

Tracking User Activities and Detecting Security Breaches

Audit trails and log files capture information such as user logins, data access attempts, and modifications made to patient records. By monitoring and analyzing these logs, organizations can identify any suspicious or unauthorized activities that may indicate a security breach or internal policy violation. Prompt detection allows for immediate investigation and mitigation.

Forensic Investigations

In the event of a security incident or data breach, audit logs serve as valuable evidence during forensic investigations. They provide a chronological record of events, helping forensic analysts reconstruct the sequence of activities and determine the scope and impact of the incident. Comprehensive logging facilitates the identification of vulnerabilities, aiding in strengthening security measures.

Monitoring and Analyzing Audit Logs

Regular monitoring and analysis of audit logs are crucial to maintaining HIPAA compliance. Automated tools and systems can assist in real-time log monitoring, alerting administrators to any unusual activities or potential threats. By reviewing log data regularly, organizations can proactively identify security gaps, reinforce access controls, and take corrective measures to prevent future incidents.

HIPAA Compliance Certification

Process of Obtaining HIPAA Compliance Certification

Obtaining HIPAA compliance certification for an eCommerce software platform involves a comprehensive evaluation of the infrastructure's adherence to HIPAA regulations. Independent audits and assessments by certified professionals assess the implementation of technical safeguards, administrative, and physical safeguards. The certification process verifies that the software platform meets the stringent security and privacy requirements outlined by HIPAA.

Role of Independent Audits and Assessments

Independent audits and assessments play a critical role in evaluating the effectiveness of security controls and policies. Certified professionals review the organization's policies, procedures, and infrastructure to ensure compliance with HIPAA regulations. Through comprehensive assessments, potential vulnerabilities and non-compliant practices can be identified and remediated.

Benefits of Achieving Certification

Obtaining HIPAA compliance certification brings numerous benefits to healthcare organizations. It enhances customer trust, as patients feel more confident entrusting their sensitive data to certified platforms. Certification improves the organization's credibility, demonstrating its commitment to privacy and security. Additionally, certification provides a competitive advantage in the healthcare industry, as organizations can market their services as being HIPAA compliant, attracting more customers and business opportunities.

Benefits of a HIPAA Compliant Infrastructure

Instilling Confidence in Patients

A HIPAA compliant infrastructure instills confidence in patients, assuring them that their personal health information is handled with the utmost care and security. Knowing that their data is protected against unauthorized access or breaches fosters trust and enables patients to engage more actively in their healthcare journey.

Fostering Trust between Healthcare Providers and Customers

When healthcare providers operate within a HIPAA compliant infrastructure, it builds trust between providers and customers. Patients can confidently share their health information with web hosting companies and providers, knowing that their privacy is safeguarded. This trust fosters stronger relationships between the hosting services, healthcare providers and customers, leading to improved patient satisfaction and loyalty.

Protecting the Organization's Reputation

Data breaches or non-compliance incidents can severely damage an organization hosting provider's reputation. A HIPAA compliant infrastructure demonstrates an organization hosting provider's commitment to protecting patient data and complying with industry regulations. By proactively implementing security measures, healthcare organizations can mitigate the risk of breaches and protect their reputation in the healthcare market.

Impact on Customer Retention, Loyalty, and Business Growth

Maintaining a HIPAA compliant infrastructure contributes to customer retention and loyalty. Patients are more likely to continue seeking healthcare services from organizations that prioritize their privacy and security. Additionally, a strong reputation for data protection attracts new customers, resulting in business growth and a competitive advantage in the healthcare eCommerce market.

Choosing the Right HIPAA Compliant Software

Key Factors to Consider in Software Selection

Selecting the right HIPAA compliant software for healthcare eCommerce needs requires careful consideration of several factors. These include data security features, encryption standards, regulatory compliance, certifications, scalability, and user-friendly interfaces.

Data Security Features

The software should offer robust security features, such as access controls, encryption, and data loss prevention mechanisms. It should enable secure storage, transmission, and processing of patient data, ensuring its confidentiality and integrity.

Encryption Standards

Strong encryption is crucial for protecting patient data from unauthorized access. The software should adhere to industry-standard encryption protocols, such as AES (Advanced Encryption Standard), to ensure data remains secure both at rest and in transit.

Compliance Certifications

Verify that the software has obtained relevant compliance certifications, such as HIPAA compliance certification. This certification ensures that the software meets the stringent security and privacy requirements mandated by HIPAA.

Scalability and User-Friendly Interfaces

Consider the scalability of the software to accommodate future growth and increased data volumes. Additionally, user-friendly interfaces simplify adoption risk management and usage, ensuring that healthcare professionals can efficiently navigate the software and access patient information without complications.


In the healthcare eCommerce sector, a robust backup and disaster recovery strategy, coupled with auditing and logging mechanisms, are essential for maintaining HIPAA compliance. The certification process and implementation of a compliant infrastructure instill confidence in patients, foster trust between healthcare providers and customers, and protect the organization's reputation. By choosing the right HIPAA compliant cloud services and software and implementing best practices, healthcare organizations can ensure the security and privacy of patient data while positioning themselves for long-term growth and success.


Q1: What is the consequence of non-compliance with HIPAA regulations?

Non-compliance with HIPAA regulations can result in severe consequences, including significant fines, legal penalties, reputational damage, and potential lawsuits. The penalties imposed for non-compliance vary based on the severity of the violation and the organization's response to the breach.

Q2: Is using public cloud and infrastructure HIPAA compliant?

Yes, using cloud infrastructure can be HIPAA compliant if the cloud service provider offers the necessary security measures and meets HIPAA requirements. It's crucial to choose a cloud provider that offers a best HIPAA compliant Business Associate Agreement (BAA) and implements robust security controls to protect patient data.

Q3: How often should a risk assessment be conducted for HIPAA compliance?

A risk assessment should be conducted regularly, ideally at least once a year or whenever there are significant changes to the infrastructure, systems, or processes that may impact the privacy and security rules of patient data. Regular risk assessments help identify vulnerabilities, evaluate risks, and implement appropriate safeguards.

Q4: Can a full HIPAA compliant cloud infrastructure protect against all data breaches?

While a HIPAA compliant infrastructure significantly reduces the risk of data breaches, it does not guarantee absolute protection. Implementing security measures and best practices minimizes the likelihood of breaches, but organizations should remain vigilant, conduct regular audits, and stay updated on emerging threats to further enhance security.

Q5: Can HIPAA compliant infrastructure be applied to other industries beyond healthcare?

Although HIPAA compliance primarily focuses on the healthcare industry, several

principles and security practices can be adopted by other industries to protect sensitive data. While the specific requirements may differ, implementing robust security measures, encryption protocols, access controls, database management and audit logging can enhance data protection in various domains.

Q6: What are the consequences of non-compliance with HIPAA regulations? A6: Non-compliance with HIPAA regulations can lead to data breaches, financial penalties, and damage to an organization's reputation. These consequences can have a significant impact on both patient privacy and the overall operations of healthcare organizations.

Q2: How does data encryption contribute to HIPAA compliance? A2: Data encryption converts sensitive patient data into an unreadable format, ensuring that even if unauthorized individuals gain access to the data, they cannot decipher its contents. Encryption plays a vital role in maintaining the confidentiality and security of patient information.

Q3: What is the role of role-based access controls in a HIPAA compliant infrastructure hosting environment? A3: Role-based access controls (RBAC) restrict data access based on users' roles and responsibilities within the organization hosting environment. RBAC ensures that individuals can access and modify only the information necessary to perform their job functions, reducing the risk of unauthorized disclosures or breaches.

Q4: Why are physical security measures important in healthcare eCommerce platforms? A4: Physical security measures, such as secure data centers, video surveillance, and restricted access to server rooms, protect the physical infrastructure where patient data is stored. These measures ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of healthcare information.

Q5: How does secure transmission protect patient data in healthcare eCommerce platforms? A5: Secure transmission protocols, such as HTTPS and secure FTP, encrypt data while it is being transferred between systems, minimizing the risk of interception or unauthorized access to electronic data. Secure transmission ensures the privacy and integrity of healthcare information during transit.

Q: What is the role of backup and disaster recovery in maintaining HIPAA compliance? A: Backup and disaster recovery mechanisms are crucial for protecting patient data from loss or damage, ensuring business continuity, and complying with HIPAA regulations.

  1. Q: How do auditing and logging help in maintaining HIPAA compliance? A: Auditing and logging mechanisms track user activities, detect security breaches, facilitate forensic investigations, and enable organizations to monitor and analyze access to patient data.

  2. Q: What are the benefits of achieving HIPAA compliance certification? A: HIPAA compliance certification enhances customer trust, improves credibility, and provides a competitive advantage in the healthcare industry.

  3. Q: How does a HIPAA compliant infrastructure benefit healthcare organizations? A: A HIPAA compliant infrastructure instills confidence in patients, fosters trust between providers and customers, protects the organization's reputation, and positively impacts customer retention, loyalty, and long-term business growth.

  4. Q: What factors should be considered when choosing HIPAA compliant software for healthcare eCommerce? A: Factors to consider include data security features, encryption standards, compliance certifications, scalability, and user-friendly interfaces.

HIPAA eCommerce

12-Step HIPAA Compliance Website Checklist

Updated  |  11 min read
Key Takeaways
  • Following a HIPAA website checklist ensures legal compliance with HIPAA regulations, which is mandatory for all healthcare providers.
  • It helps protect patient privacy by ensuring that appropriate security measures are in place, such as encryption and secure login procedures.
  • Following a HIPAA compliance checklist also helps prevent data breaches and protects a care provider's reputation.
  • Compliance with a HIPAA risk assessment checklist is essential for safeguarding patients' sensitive health information and avoiding legal and financial consequences.

Understanding What HIPAA Means for Your Site

Every medical practice, clinic, pharmacy, nursing home, and healthcare provider must adhere to HIPAA rules when they have an online presence that transfers medical information. Healthcare organizations failing to do so could lead to substantial fines from the government.

Even worse, you'll lose the trust of your patients and ruin your good reputation. Customers trust their health to physicians and caregivers, and they want to feel just as confident that their health information is in good hands. That's why you need to invest in a robust HIPAA-compliant website if you plan to transfer or store electronic protected health information, or ePHI.

A HIPAA security requirements checklist can be used by a security officer.

Duty of Care for HIPAA Compliance

Covered entities are companies subject to HIPAA regulations. This encompasses doctors, pharmacies, and nursing homes that transfer medical information, often referred to as electronic medical records (EMR), electronic health records (EHR), or (electronic) protected health information (PHI or ePHI). Covered entities also include health insurance companies, HMOs, government agencies that subsidize health care (Medicare), and military and veterans' organizations.

A HIPAA audit is performed by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), a division of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Sharing this information has become an important part of modern healthcare, but HIPAA compliance also creates a burden for medical providers. We can't stress this enough: Covered entities bear the final responsibility for their compliance with all HIPAA guidelines and regulations.

Here we offer a free HIPAA-compliance checklist so you can be prepared for HIPAA requirements for your website.

12-Step HIPAA Checklist

Hipaa checklist.

1. Create a HIPAA Compliance Website Checklist

The first step in a HIPAA-compliant checklist is creating a list that serves needs specific to your company. Having a plan in place for HIPAA-compliant website design and hosting is one of the most important business objectives you'll ever pursue. Don't approach this haphazardly; you need to have a personalized HIPAA compliance website checklist to ensure you meet every HIPAA standard.

2. Research Healthcare Industry Needs

When considering the needs of your website, you must first consider the HIPAA laws in place that affect every healthcare provider and then personalize your plan to comply. Simple, unsecured websites are no longer an option and often suffer HIPAA violations, even if you just include a contact form for patients to fill out. Be sure to find trusted information so that you can find an IT partner familiar with HIPAA compliance.

3. Determine If HIPAA Is Necessary

Next, you need to determine if your data fits the description you'd find on a HIPAA compliance requirements checklist at all. HIPAA-compliant websites are only necessary if it is used to collect, store, process, display, or transmit ERM/EHR/PHI. HIPAA does not cover physical health records or electronic records that are stored in a single location with no means of web transfer.

Because HIPAA was designed to improve healthcare by providing easy access to information, there aren't many computer systems in the medical industry that don't require strict HIPAA compliance.


Looking for a HIPAA-Compliant Website?

We can help there, too. We developed HIPAA-compliant eCommerce that is customizable to your needs. Check it out to get started!

HIPAA compliant website solution.

4. Learn HIPAA Website Basics

Before you understand how to make your website HIPAA compliant and how to avoid HIPAA violations, familiarize yourself with HIPAA requirements, which state that healthcare websites must:

  • Implement rules and safeguards to protect patient health information.
  • Limit sharing of confidential data to authorized stakeholders who directly help patients in some way.
  • Ensure any business associates or corporate partners also safeguard PHI and share information only when done so in each patient's best interests.
  • Limit who can access PHI and train employees about security and confidentiality best practices.

5. Research and Follow HIPAA Rules

HIPAA rules don't stop with information protection; it's also adamant about tracking information access. They also require covered entities to keep track of who has viewed PHI, why they are accessing it, what they are accessing, and if the information has been transferred in any way. Working with a HIPAA eCommerce integration company that has experience protecting both is a must.

6. Encrypt HIPAA Patient Intake Forms

Another important part of a HIPAA compliance audit checklist is protecting web forms. A web form is any information-collecting form that is filled out by a patient or client. Common examples include desktop or mobile forms that collect medical and health insurance information. This information is then collected to create long-term and centralized medical records.

HIPAA-compliant web forms ensure that the connection between the browser and the website is encrypted, so information entered on the site or web forms is protected against unauthorized access. You must make sure your HIPAA-compliant website is hosted by a company that knows what it's doing when transferring forms to the HIPAA web server. Clarity is ready to make your forms HIPAA secure.

A HIPAA compliance checklist can help avoid a HIPAA audit.

7. Use HIPAA-Approved Contact Forms

Any page that allows patients to submit information can be considered a contact form. This includes pre-visit health surveys, patient portals, and live chat facilities. Even the simplest contact form has to be secure; a person contacting a doctor will not want anyone to have easy access to their inquiries regarding particular health problems. When going over your HIPAA compliance checklist, make sure that contact forms follow HIPAA rules.

8. Protect HIPAA Web Servers

PHI must be protected at every step. HIPAA-compliant servers must include the most secure protection available while PHI is in the Cloud, but it also must be secure during any sort of internet transfer. That includes end-to-end encryption for any information that is sent back to or between healthcare providers.

  • Collecting PHI: If your website collects any individually identifiable medical information, such as symptoms, conditions, or requested healthcare services, you are collecting PHI. That information must be ferried securely to the web server.
  • Storing PHI: Whether you store individually identifiable health information on your own server or on a third-party server, you must ensure that the security of the information is compliant with HIPAA and that regular maintenance is done to keep it so.
  • Transmitting PHI: PHI must also be secure and encrypted when it is transferred in any way. This includes direct transfer between servers, via email, or any other digital transference. 

9. Install a Robust SSL Certificate

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is the industry standard for transferring data over internet channels, usually between a web server and a browser. SSL certificates make sure that data is encrypted from end to end and is not readable by third parties. The “s” in https// that is found on most websites indicates that any information transferred on that site will be secure. Some of the best low-cost—or even free—SSL Certificate providers are:

Be careful; free SSL certificates often don't offer the most stringent security and could lead to a HIPAA violation. Properly installing an SSL can be a tricky business as well. Since it's one of the most important parts of this HIPAA risk assessment checklist, you'll probably want to trust this step with a company familiar with HIPAA-compliant database design. We'll take care of it for you.

HIPAA-Compliant eCommerce in Days, Not Months

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10. Choosing Your HIPAA Compliant Solution

Who you work with can determine whether or not you truly have a HIPAA-compliant website. As you saw from the previous points, the website must be secure from many angles. Clarity provides HIPAA compliant solutions to seamlessly secure PHI that's transmitted to and from your website, all the while adhering to HIPAA-compliant server requirements.

11. Finding a Hosting Provider

Don't trust just anyone with your web hosting. HIPAA-compliant web hosting requires some of the most robust security available. Since security is so important to your business, make sure you find one that specializes in HIPAA-compliant web hosting.

12. Securely Back Up Data

Backing up patients' PHI—perhaps a lifetime's worth of data—is a must. But backups usually mean that data is being duplicated from one server to another. Protection must be just as protected during the backup as when it's on the original server.

Business associates can help you back up your data.

BONUS: Healthcare Organization Tips

  • Ensure that third-party service providers sign a business associate agreement (BAA) stating that they accept some responsibility for the security of the PHI
  • Ensure HIPAA-compliant website hosting
  • Implement secure user authentication with a hosting provider
  • Work with HIPAA-compliant web hosting providers for security needs
  • Secure the website using an SSL certificate
  • Encrypt all web forms
  • Using HIPAA-compliant email encryption

If you don’t want to deal with all of this yourself—or hire multiple companies to complete each task individually—you’ll want to seek out someone with experience in HIPAA integration. Click here to make it easy on yourself.

The Four HIPAA Compliance Rules

There are four HIPAA security rules that further define how covered entities and business associates safeguard protected health information (PHI). The four rules are:

  • HIPAA Privacy Rule
  • HIPAA Security Rule
  • HIPAA Enforcement Rule
  • HIPAA Breach Notification Rule

In the normal course of business operations, only the first three rules apply to covered entities and their business associates. The last rule comes into play only when HIPAA violations occur or websites are breached and there's a risk that PHI has been compromised.

HIPAA solutions come in many shapes and sizes. From a simple online pharmacy to a complex doctor-patient portal to a mobile application, they all need to follow a HIPAA-compliance checklist regarding PHI.

Clarity has built many of these projects, and we are comfortable helping you make your website HIPAA-compliant and ensuring the privacy and security of patient information.

1. Privacy Rule Considerations

In addition to all of the privacy protection mentioned above, care providers must consider other patient PHI privacy concerns. For instance, they can share information with authorized individuals such as family members in certain circumstances. An example is if the patient is mentally incapacitated or if the patient is a minor.

Generally, HIPAA compliance rules prevent healthcare providers from sharing or exposing confidential information in electronic, written, and oral forms. This means that those in the healthcare industry have a duty even when discussing health records over the phone where they could be overheard by unauthorized people.

In some cases, outside service providers may need access to information to provide medical services, so these cases are exempted from privacy restrictions. The Privacy Rule applies to computer information about patients, conversations between doctors and medical staff, billing information, medical charts, and prescription information.

2. Security Rule Considerations

National standards of security protect the information in healthcare organization databases, eCommerce customer lists where medical records are part of the database, medical clearinghouses, pharmacies, health insurance companies, and other care providers and business associates.

The HIPAA Security Rule has three components: technical safeguards, administrative safeguards, and physical safeguards. Some of the major highlights of when working a HIPAA Security Rule checklist include—but aren't limited to—the following points:

  • Performing periodic risk analysis to determine physical and digital vulnerabilities of PHI.
  • Reducing risks to acceptable levels.
  • Regularly reviewing system activities, digital logs, and audit trails.
  • Authorizing and supervising the employees who have access to PHI.
  • Protecting PHI from unauthorized parent companies, subcontractors, and partner organizations.
  • Sending regular updates to staff members about security issues and training employees to recognize malware, malicious software, and other virtual and real-world threats.
  • Implementing a system of access controls.
  • Providing encryption and decryption tools, especially when you transmit PHI.
  • Facilitating safeguards like automatic logoffs.
  • Establishing mandatory policies for using workstations and mobile devices.
Business associates are also subject to a HIPAA audit by Health and Human Services.

3. Enforcement Rule Considerations

The HIPAA Enforcement Rule mostly concerns penalties and investigations when companies are found to be non-compliant, but eCommerce companies do have some enforcement responsibilities through the administrative section of the Security Rule. These include getting authorization forms for disclosing information to third-party sources, providing customers with a Notice of Privacy Practices, and drawing up Business Associate Agreements for partners to acknowledge their responsibilities under HIPAA.

4. Breach Notification Rule Considerations

Breaches occur when unauthorized people gain access to protected health information in some manner that's not permitted under the HIPAA Privacy Rule. These breaches include unauthorized access to physical areas, inadvertent disclosures, stolen or misplaced documents, and digital hacks. If the HIPAA Breach Notification Rule is violated, covered entities must:

  • Determine if PHI is compromised.
  • Assess the type and amount of data involved.
  • Find out who used the PHI illegally or to whom information was disclosed.
  • Chronicle steps taken to mitigate the breach.
  • Ascertain if the breach was closed or information returned before being used.
  • If the breach occurred inadvertently under a covered associate’s or entity’s authority.
  • Send notices of breach incidents to each patient's last known address by First Class mail or email if electronic notifications are authorized.
  • If the Breach Notification Rule is broken, write notices in easy-to-understand language and include a summary of how the situation occurred, the date of exposure, and other relevant details.

Specific Concerns for Covered Entities & Business Associates

Covered entities and business associates must consider not only whether their websites are compliant with HIPAA requirements but also whether all forms of their digital presence online are compliant. Technology advances often result in web pages and social media that act as customer service extensions.

Any transmission of data or storage of protected information offsite or in the Cloud must be compliant. Fortunately, eCommerce companies don't need to be overwhelmed by restrictions and compliance issues because they can hire third-party consultants like Clarity.

We specialize in HIPAA compliance and secure portals to transfer PHI. We can also point you to the right place to follow another part of a HIPAA compliance checklist: administrative safeguards.

Are All Webforms Required to Reach HIPAA Compliance?

Even simple opt-in forms on websites must comply with the HIPAA security rule if the forms collect any kind of personal health information. For example, if website forms only ask for names, email addresses, phone numbers, and physical addresses (i.e., information readily available on the internet), then the forms don't need to be HIPAA compliant.

However, if any medical, insurance, social security, or other information is required, the form must comply with HIPAA requirements, and the storage and transmission of the data collected must adhere as well.

HIPAA compliant webforms.

HIPAA Compliant Website Design

Major eCommerce companies usually employ a team of designers for their websites, stores, and online catalogs, and if the website is required to adhere to HIPAA compliance rules, these professionals should know this information and act accordingly.

However, that's not the way things always work. Designers can overlook key elements even if they're following a HIPAA compliance checklist, and unless your designer is familiar with what HIPAA requires, it's in the company's best interest to confirm HIPAA compliance rules to make a HIPAA-compliant website viable.

Design issues that should be added to a HIPAA compliance checklist include:

  • Ensuring that health data being transmitted is always encrypted
  • Implementing safeguards to prevent tampering with health logs
  • HIPAA hosting should adhere to HIPAA compliance rules or a HIPAA Business Associate Agreement
  • Limiting access to PHI to authorized staff
  • Backing up all PHI information in ways that ensure the data is recoverable

Integrate HIPAA with eCommerce

It's important to remember that a website isn't just about protecting HIPAA-protected information. The medical field is a business, after all, and the HIPAA eCommerce side has to be considered as well. It's especially critical to choose the right eCommerce and HIPAA development partner to create the most secure portals and websites possible.

Clarity has been designing and building HIPAA-compliant portals that incorporate eCommerce platforms for more than 16 years. We understand the challenges that come with our clients' projects and the need to secure and transmit PHI, whether health-related or financial. Tell us what you need protecting and we'll protect it.

Discover Your HIPAA Solution

We hope this HIPAA compliance checklist has helped. It's vital to know what you and your business associates need to do to comply.

If you'd like to learn more, we offer a free discovery process where our experts go over your business's needs and help you find the best solution. Feel free to take the information with you anywhere after the session—this is a freebie to get you started. Click the button below to get your free session.



A HIPAA-compliant website is one that adheres to the act of Congress called the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. A HIPAA compliant website has robust security to protect any patient and customer PHI that passes through it on its way to servers that meet HIPAA compliance standards.


Making a HIPAA compliance checklist is vital because it identifies the areas of your business that are most susceptible to attack. It also creates a plan going forward with the subsequent security measures that can be added over time.


The three primary ways to make a website HIPAA compliant are to a) ensure transmitted health data is encrypted, b) host websites on web servers that adhere to HIPAA compliance rules, and c) limiting PHI access only to authorized staff.


Any organization or business that collects and stores PHI (protected health information) is subject to HIPAA compliance rules. Holders of this information are called covered entities, or CEs. Each CE should seek legal counsel to determine the level of security necessary to protect PHI in transit and at rest.


Making a website fully HIPAA compliant is an extensive process. For a preexisting website and related servers, it’s important to address the most vulnerable and high-value areas first. Additional protection can be added as necessary to secure PHI that may be compromised in edge cases. Working with an experienced HIPAA developer is an excellent first step.


The healthcare provider or organization that owns and operates the website is responsible for ensuring compliance with HIPAA regulations. This includes ensuring that all patient information handled by the website is properly secured and protected and that all employees who handle patient information are properly trained on HIPAA regulations and policies.

The responsibility also extends to any third-party vendors or partners who handle patient information on behalf of the healthcare provider.

Ultimately, it's the responsibility of the healthcare provider or organization to follow a HIPAA compliance checklist to protect patient information and comply with HIPAA regulations, and to quickly and effectively respond to any security incidents that may occur.


To meet HIPAA compliance requirements, care providers must take several important steps. First, they need to conduct a thorough risk analysis to identify potential vulnerabilities and risks to the security and privacy of patient information.

Based on this analysis, policies, and procedures should be developed and implemented to protect patient information. This includes physical and technical safeguards, such as access controls to ensure that only authorized personnel can access patient information.

It's also crucial to train all employees on HIPAA regulations and policies and to provide ongoing training to ensure continued compliance. Implement a security awareness training program to help avoid HIPAA violations. Also, healthcare providers should establish business associate agreements with any third-party vendors or partners who handle patient information in case a HIPAA violation occurs.

Regular review and updating of policies and procedures are also essential, along with quickly and effectively responding to security incidents and promptly reporting any incidents to affected patients and relevant authorities. Using a HIPAA compliance checklist is an excellent way to ensure you are avoiding a HIPAA violation.


The most important parts of a HIPAA-compliant checklist typically include privacy and security policies. This includes outlining how patient information is accessed, shared, and protected, and procedures for reporting and responding to security incidents.

Training and awareness ensure all staff members who handle patient information are properly trained on HIPAA regulations and privacy and security policies. Regular risk assessments to identify and mitigate potential security risks, and implement security controls to manage those risks.

Incident response and reporting means having procedures in place to quickly and effectively respond to security incidents, and promptly reporting any incidents to affected patients and relevant authorities.

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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.