SSL, HTTPS, HIPAA, What Do These Mean to Dental Websites?
SSL, HTTPS, HIPAA – all of these abbreviations can be downright overwhelming. But the truth is understanding what they mean both in general and to your practice in general can have a huge impact on how you do business and how you design your marketing tactics.
Before we look at what each of these mean to your website, it’s crucial we look at what they mean in a more general sense.
SSL | SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. It’s the industry standard in creating an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. Simply put, a web server is where all of a website’s information lives – pictures, written content, forms. Anything that is on a website lives on a server. Your web browser is what calls that data and displays it. By creating a secure connection between the two you’re ensuring any data that passes between the two is secure and protected. This technology is used by financial institutions, schools, and e-commerce websites, in addition to being implemented to create secure websites for dentists.
HTTPS | Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure, more commonly referred to as HTTPS, is a security measure used to ensure any data you send between a server and a website is completely secure. When a website uses HTTPS it creates a code that scrambles messages and sends them between other computers. This makes it much more difficult for hackers to decode or access data.
HIPAA | You can read an in depth article on what HIPAA is here. HIPAA, simply put, is a federal law that protects your protected health information secure from being disclosed or transmitted in such a way that it would be put at risk of being revealed. This law is incredibly important because it plays a big part in making patients feel comfortable enough to share information with their providers.
Each of these components helps to give visitors to your website a sense of security. This lends to the credibility of your website and also gives it a more professional, polished appearance.
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One of the most common requests medical and dental offices have regarding their website design is that it have the option to email with clients. While this might be simple to do for any other business, when it comes to designing a secure email portal for doctor’s and patients to communicate through it becomes more difficult.
However, with more people communicating via email, this is a feature you will want to offer site visitors.
Email allows you to:
- Save time so you don’t have to call patients with test results or information, unless they specifically request you do so.
- Maintain an organized record of communication. Never worry about whether a patient was communicated with about something. You’ll have a solid digital record of all communications.
- Free your office staff up from having to maintain paper records.
- Communicate more immediately with patients in a secure, safe way. Deliver test results, send appointment reminders, allow patients to request prescription refills, and let patients update their information all through a simple, secure portal.
- Save money on postage.
Even if a person visiting your website is not a patient, it’s important that you give them the opportunity to communicate with your office in a secure manner. By including a form that is secure you can allow prospective patients to ask questions or transmit information about procedures they’re interested in without causing any problems.
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Hacking is something that we hear about on a regular basis. Large banks have been hacked, even a major credit reporting agency was recently hacked. As a result, security is at the forefront of most people’s minds when they’re engaging in any online behavior.
Any violation of HIPAA or other security standards could cost millions in fees, as well as damage your reputation to the point of no return. Reputation management usually doesn’t help with things like security violations. It’s absolutely critical that you protect not just your practice, but the relationship between you and your patients.
By equipping your business with the proper security protocols you can market your website as more than just a source for information. With the right security it can be a complete patient portal where patients can go for information, submit questions to their doctor or dentist, and be actively involved in their care without feeling as if their information is vulnerable.
Additionally, online portals tend to cater to the uniqueness of each patient’s schedule, so you don’t have to worry about reaching patients at a convenient time or working with several schedules to actually ensure everyone is communicated with.