Hosting can be a cut-throat business. Some think website hosting is simple because it can be found for a few dollars a month.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with clients in numerous business verticals. Among then, some in hearing aids, vein clinics, chiropractors, therapeutic massage and private-practice doctor offices. Client needs have put me in position to provide, research, collaborate with and recommend numerous hosting providers and in-house packages. If you’re in business yourself, you’ve probably received the offers… “Expensive, cheap, free-free-free”. And as long as everything goes right, no one ever attempts a hack, it all appears seamless. In my opinion, website hosting is a lot like providing power; Everything seems simple, until there’s a problem.

Add HIPAA requirements to this discussion and progress can grind to a halt. Nothing create frigid, board-room silence, like introducing the topic of HIPAA (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). I’ve watched this blanket-of-fear settle on a team of otherwise competent and confident professionals. Administrators with decades of experience and Doctors who routinely perform out-patient procedures are often gripped with terror at the topic of crossing the “HIPAA line”. Most, I expect would prefer to face an IRS audit. During budget projections, the question of HIPAA Compliance will arise and with it, the expectation that things are about to become very, very expensive. And they will, if you choose to make it that way.

But there are simple and compliant alternatives.

When developing Health care related websites, HIPAA requirements apply to the information being collected. Since the function of most websites is providing information, there are options.

Ease of Use: Websites are used primarily as marketing tools. Which means they’ll undergo constant change, addition and updating as staff and the marketing group post, edit and respond to questions and requests. Tiered administrative access to a website makes perfect sense. But having the entire site on “lock-down” because all of it is subject to HIPAA may be over-doing it. This heightened security pathway can create roadblocks to organizational production and response time, negatively affecting group profits.

Cost: HIPAA hosting providers can have multiple administrative levels to confirm even simple changes. Because their responsibility to the customer is HIPAA compliance, lag-time to verify requests is expectable and with it, increasing expenses: Website updates that should be small enough to fall into the “miscellaneous” line item of your budget can suddenly quadruple along with the time it takes to make them. Since the marketing efforts for most successful businesses require constant attention, these expenses can quickly spiral upward, causing budgets to buckle under the weight.

Remove Fear & Loathing: I don’t espouse cheap hosting. I DO recommend “right-size-hosting” and believe understanding what’s required by HIPAA, as well as what’s not, is the best way to create a path to your healthcare website success.

The segment of a website that collects client information may be best suited to use of a third party portal. Speak with your Hosting provider or Marketing group. Ask for their recommendation or hire them for research. The small amount spent doing so can allow a group to reallocate budget for productive actions that create business.