As the healthcare industry in the United States keeps pace with our unfolding technological future, many forward-thinking organizations are embarking down the path of building web based products for healthcare providers. However, as many tech companies come to realize, when you dip a toe into murky waters of the healthcare industry, you pull your foot out covered in messy compliance regulations. Many companies struggle with how to proceed into this unknown territory, but your goals can be accomplished by choosing the right development team for this journey.
Who do you need on your web team?
The natural reaction is to go with the smallest team possible, a team of one. If you’re going to go with a single person they MUST have experience with both web development and the legal framework of HIPAA. This is not the recommended path, as developers fitting both specializations are exceedingly rare. Luckily there’s hope. If you decide that this route this is your best option, Gazelle Consulting is one of the few organizations who offers this service.
The more common approach is to assemble a team composed of a competent developer and a HIPAA consultant who has experience working hand in hand with technologists. Developers can be rather solitary by nature so you’ll have to make a point to find someone who is comfortable working with a consultant.
Find a team that shares your security goals
Assuming that all developers can build a HIPAA compliant website is a mistake. Not only is web security a skillset, it is also a mindset. For web products that are working towards HIPAA compliance, web application security must be the primary consideration, not an afterthought. If you start asking questions about security and HIPAA compliance and get responses that downplay the importance of these features, run for the hills. HIPAA compliant websites have their own set of security considerations above and beyond the high level of security that’s taken for granted in any professional level website.
Start off with compliance in mind, retrofitting is extremely costly.
To effectively build a HIPAA compliant website you will need a team that is well versed in web app security who can implement best practices from the beginning. It may be tempting to accept the lowest bid on your project, but in the long run, cutting corners can wind up costing you more.
If your existing site was not created with HIPAA compliance in mind, finding and hiring compliance qualified developers to retrofit it can be incredibly challenging and costly. Fixing an app that was designed with poor security practices can cost nearly as much as an entire rebuild because the application architecture, communication protocols, and user behavior may need to be scrapped and rebuilt.
Pay close attention to IT needs
Many organizations don’t realize that setting up a secure website requires secure administration of servers that the site is hosted on as well as development of the web application itself. Someone in your organization, usually the IT team, will be responsible for managing the server administration in the short and long term.
Penalties of up to 2 million dollars have been leveled in the past for improperly configured web servers that exposed patient data. A HIPAA compliant server setup is as important as securing any other part of your web application and requires another area of expertise many individual developers cannot provide. It’s important to ensure that your IT team is included in meetings with your HIPAA compliance team to make sure their questions are answered, they understand the ongoing security requirements, and that they implement any necessary changes to your web server.
Choosing a web development team that builds your HIPAA compliant website right the first time can save you time, frustration, and most importantly, money. It is your responsibility to make sure any systems handling you or your clients’ patient data are secure and every conceivable effort has been made to address vulnerabilities. There are enough ways for a data breach to occur without incompetent developers building you more. Trying to go cheap will fail you every time. Find a developer who does both or seek out one that can work with a qualified HIPAA consultant.
Going cheap can end up costing you double in redesign budget.
Development skills are not enough, you need to find HIPAA compliant expertise as well.
Security is not just a mindset, it’s a skillset.
Secure server administration is vital and often overlooked.
If a developer talks down your security concerns, run for the hills.
Gazelle Consulting can work with your current dev team to identify vulnerabilities, assess risk, and suggest updates to your web product.