Is WordPress HIPAA Compliant?

Is WordPress HIPAA Compliant?

Many healthcare services use WordPress, a popular website-building and hosting platform. With its arsenal of powerful plugins and user-friendly features, WordPress takes a top spot in its area of expertise. 

The question is, is WordPress secure to use for healthcare? Let’s discuss WordPress HIPAA compliance in this article.

is wordpress hipaa compliant

Using WordPress in Healthcare

Not all websites need to comply with the strict standards of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). However, if your website builder stores and accesses electronic protected health information (ePHI), then HIPAA compliance is necessary.

ePHI includes patient demographics, medical records, health insurance information, treatment plans, and any data about an individual’s health status. If you use your WordPress-hosted site to gather and transmit sensitive patient data like these, you must take careful steps to ensure HIPAA compliance.

wordpress hipaa compliant

Is WordPress HIPAA Compliant?

No, WordPress is not HIPAA compliant. However, you can still use it in a way that complies with HIPAA. One of the requirements for business associates that handle ePHI is signing a business associate agreement (BAA). However, WordPress does not mention the availability of BAAs on its site. Also, the platform doesn’t claim to comply with HIPAA, unlike Liquid Web, Microsoft Azure, or Amazon Web Services.

Nonetheless, you can still use it as a healthcare website host if you don’t allow it to handle ePHI. For instance, you can use it to create an informational blog or to market your products. But you can’t use the platform for tasks or processes involving appointment setting or medical record keeping

Additionally, you can use the platform in a healthcare setting if you form a business associate agreement with WordPress plugins that handle ePHI. Some third-party developers offer WordPress HIPAA-compliant forms to build questionnaires, new client registrations, online bill payments, etc. You can use these plugins with your WordPress site, provided you store PHI separately and have a BAA with the developers.

What Security Features Does WordPress Have?

WordPress may not be inherently HIPAA compliant, but it does offer several security features that can help safeguard PHI against breaches:

Strong encryption

The platform uses SSL to encrypt all WordPress sites and custom domains it hosts. Encryption cannot be disabled, and all insecure HTTP requests are redirected to secure HTTPS. Moreover, WordPress automatically installs an SSL certificate for your site, which encrypts the connection between your browser and server.

Monitoring of suspicious activities

WordPress employs firewalls and security protocols to ensure that all access to your website is authorized. The platform continuously checks web traffic and looks for potential vulnerabilities in its system. It also applies security measures against distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.

Backup and recovery

WordPress ensures your data remains safe in case of unexpected hardware failure, cyberattacks, and other untoward incidents. It backs up your data regularly for easy access and recovery.

While it’s laudable for WordPress to prioritize data security, it still lacks several elements for HIPAA compliance. If you check other HIPAA-compliant web hosting solutions, you’ll notice that they offer advanced security features and third-party auditing to ensure compliance. 

Is WordPress HIPAA Compliant?

Can WordPress Be Made HIPAA-Compliant?

Despite the challenges with WordPress compliance, there are ways to enable HIPAA-compliant WordPress hosting. You can employ other services like HIPAA Vault, which provides managed secure hosting for WordPress. Services like these configure and optimize WordPress for HIPAA compliance.

Also, as a website owner, you should ensure that all your processes comply with the federal law’s physical, technical, and administrative safeguards. Having a HIPAA-compliant website is essential, but other factors, such as conducting compliance training for your staff, installing physical security on your premises, and performing regular risk analysis, also play a huge part in ensuring compliance.

Use a HIPAA-Compliant WordPress Site or its Alternatives 

It’s possible to make WordPress comply with strict data privacy laws. You can use HIPAA-compliant plugins and sign a BAA with their developers. You can also avoid using your WordPress site to store, access, and view ePHI. But, if these ideas are limiting, and you lack the expertise to implement them, it’s best to leave WordPress and HIPAA compliance to the pros.

As mentioned, several services can optimize your WordPress-hosted site for HIPAA compliance. Their IT professionals can maintain, configure firewalls, and monitor the website. While WordPress and HIPAA compliance may seem complex, these services can help simplify the process. Or, you can choose other site builders and hosting services that are HIPAA compliant. These platforms are specifically designed for healthcare, making it easier for your organization or business to build a HIPAA-compliant website.

As popular as WordPress is for site building and hosting, you’re better off choosing a platform that ensures compliance. If it means keeping your patients’ data safe, then it’s worth the extra effort.

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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