is shopify hipaa compliant

Is Shopify HIPAA Compliant?

Shopify is one of the top eCommerce platforms for many industries, including healthcare. With eCommerce, your healthcare products can have a wider reach. However, you must ensure Shopify HIPAA compliance before using the platform to sell your product or service.

So, is Shopify HIPAA compliant? Now’s the time to determine whether the platform can handle protected health information.

Is Shopify HIPAA Compliant?

Benefits of eCommerce in the Healthcare Industry

Healthcare is a profitable industry, poised to grow to 732.3 billion in 2027, as data from the Healthcare eCommerce Global Market Report 2023 shows. Thanks to B2B, B2C, and D2C platforms like Shopify, healthcare products and services have become more affordable and accessible.

Shopify offers several benefits for healthcare organizations looking to establish an online presence. They can use it for telemedicine integration, appointment setting, medical supply sales, and educational resources. However, like all internet platforms that handle protected health information (PHI), Shopify is subject to privacy and regulatory compliance.

Is Shopify HIPAA Compliant?

Is Shopify Inherently HIPAA-Compliant?

Unfortunately, Shopify is not inherently HIPAA-compliant. This means the platform doesn’t have the necessary cybersecurity and data privacy measures to handle, transmit, or store electronic PHI (ePHI). Shopify’s Acceptable Use Policy warns against collecting, storing, or processing PHI subject to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Quoting Shopify:

You may not use the Services to collect, store, or process any protected health information subject to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”), any applicable health privacy regulation, or any other applicable law governing the processing, use, or disclosure of protected health information.

This means that the e-commerce platform will not sign a Business Associate Agreement (BAA), which is required for vendors that handle PHI. There are no existing plug-ins or extensions to make Shopify HIPAA compliant. You cannot use Shopify to offer products and services that may compromise an individual’s data policy. For instance, you cannot provide PCR testing and then upload the test results on your Shopify site so the patient can access the information quickly.

As the Shopify Community forum emphasizes, uploading sensitive information on Shopify goes against the platform’s terms of service and acceptable use policy. While the discussion in the forum was initiated in 2005, Shopify’s policy on protected health information hasn’t changed as of the time of this writing.

Can Shopify Be Made HIPAA-Compliant?

Shopify may not be inherently HIPAA-compliant, but you can still use it without going against HIPAA rules and compromising people’s data privacy. The key is to use a third-party solution that enables Shopify compliance.

You can configure a third-party app to store ePHI in one of the best HIPAA-compliant web hosting solutions. Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Atlantic.net, and Liquid Web are just some web hosts that enable compliance with federal data privacy laws.

These web hosts offer advanced security measures such as secure data servers, encrypted VPNs, data recovery systems, firewalls, and technical support. They will also sign a BAA with you so you can follow HIPAA rules. Remember, if a web host doesn’t offer a BAA, it is not HIPAA compliant.

If the process sounds too technical, hire a consultant or web developer specializing in HIPAA-compliant web hosting. Online services like We Make Websites and FDGweb offer HIPAA-compliant web development for healthcare brands. They can redesign your website to enable HIPAA compliance and integrate features to make your services more accessible to clients.

Is Shopify HIPAA Compliant?

Risks of Using Shopify in Healthcare

You don’t want to face the legal repercussions of a HIPAA violation if a data breach happens while using Shopify. The US government takes data privacy seriously, and the cost and consequences of non-compliance are significant. Even if you say the data breach was accidental, legal bodies will still hold you liable to some extent, especially if you failed to implement the required safeguards to mitigate the risks of such incidents.

You can never be complacent, given that eCommerce platforms are highly vulnerable to cybercrimes. For instance, ZDNet reports that the employees working for Instacart, Tesla, and Shopify caused separate security breaches in their respective companies. Protecting your client’s data should always remain a top priority.

Ensure HIPAA Compliance Before Using Shopify

You can use Shopify to promote healthcare products and services without worrying about HIPAA compliance if ePHI isn’t involved. Avoid using the platform to upload, store, or process anything containing PHI, such as prescriptions and therapy notes.

However, you can still experience the full benefits of a convenient platform like Shopify while preventing a violation. The key is to use a third-party web hosting that enables HIPAA compliance. You can also hire experts who are knowledgeable about Shopify and HIPAA compliance. Doing this will require extra investment but will steer you clear of any potential HIPAA violations and hefty penalties.

Kent Cañas

Kent is a content strategist currently specializing in HIPAA-compliant online fax. Her expertise in this field allows her to provide valuable insights to clients seeking a secure and efficient online fax solution.

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