In today’s digital age, online privacy is a hot button issue. Healthcare providers and medical institutions must take extra precautions when it comes to protecting patient privacy. In fact, a number of states such as California, Colorado, Connecticut, Utah, and Virginia have passed legislation designed to enhance privacy protection for consumers. With the increasing use of technology in the healthcare industry, it’s crucial to ensure that your medical website is compliant with the Privacy Rights Act (PRA), AKA the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA).
In this article, we will explore the steps you can take to protect patient privacy on your medical website and ensure that you are meeting all the necessary requirements under the Privacy Rights Act. So, let’s dive in and learn how to keep your patients’ personal information safe and secure while still providing them with the best possible online experience.
What is the Privacy Rights Act (PRA)?
The Privacy Rights Act is a privacy law that went into effect on January 1, 2020, in California. The PRA enhances the privacy protections for California consumers by providing them with additional rights and control over their personal information. The right to limit the use and disclosure of sensitive personal information collected about them. In January 2023, consumers also now have the right to correct inaccurate personal information that a business has about them.
Here are some of the key provisions of the PRA:
- Right to Know: Consumers have the right to know what personal information is being collected about them by businesses.
- Right to Delete: Consumers have the right to request that their personal information be deleted by businesses.
- Right to Opt-Out: Consumers have the right to opt-out of the sale of their personal information by businesses.
- Right to Non-Discrimination: Businesses cannot discriminate against consumers who exercise their privacy rights.
These new rights are in addition to the existing privacy rights provided by the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). The PRA expands on the CCPA by adding new requirements for businesses that collect and use personal information.
Who does the Privacy Rights Act apply to?
The PRA applies to any for-profit business who does business in California and collects and uses the personal information of California residents. These businesses must also meet one of the following criteria:
- Has annual gross revenues in excess of $25 million
- Buys or sells the personal information of 50,000 or more consumers, households, or devices
- Derives 50% or more of its annual revenues from selling personal information
This means that if your medical website collects personal information from California residents, you must comply with the PRA, and if your healthcare business meets any of the above criteria, you are subject to the requirements of the PRA.
How does the Privacy Rights Act impact medical websites?
Additionally, websites must obtain explicit consent from consumers before collecting their personal information. This includes obtaining consent before setting cookies, which are small pieces of data that are stored on a user’s device and used to track their online activities. Websites must also provide consumers with a way to easily opt-out of the sale of their personal information.
The PRA has several requirements that businesses must meet to be in compliance.
These requirements include:
- Providing individuals with the right to access their personal information.
- Providing individuals with the right to request that their personal information be deleted. Websites today must provide consumers with a way to submit these requests and must respond to these requests in a timely manner
- Providing individuals with the right to opt-out of the sale of their personal information.
Additionally, you must ensure that any third-party providers you use on your website, such as a web host or analytics provider, are also in compliance with the PRA.
How to prepare your website for the Privacy Rights Act
If your website collects and uses personal information, then you need to take these 6 steps to ensure that you are compliant with the PRA.
- Provide opt-out options. Medical practices should provide individuals with the option to opt-out of the sale or sharing of their personal information. This means that your practice should provide a clear and easy-to-use mechanism for individuals to exercise their rights.
- Implement security measures. Medical practices should implement reasonable security measures to protect the personal information that they collect. This includes measures such as encryption, access controls, and regular security assessments.
- Conduct a privacy risk assessment to identify and mitigate risks to personal information. This assessment should be conducted periodically and should be documented.
- Train employees on the new requirements of the PRA. This includes training on how to handle personal information, how to respond to requests from individuals, and how to report data breaches.
- Monitor compliance and update your policies and procedures as necessary. This includes monitoring for changes in the law and changes in the practices of third-party service providers.
How to ensure patient data is secure
Ensuring that patient data is secure is crucial for protecting patient privacy. Here are some steps you can take to ensure that patient data is secure:
- Use secure forms: Use a secure form on your website that encrypts patient information when it is submitted.
- Store data securely: Ensure that any patient data you collect is stored securely and is not accessible to unauthorized individuals.
- Limit access: Limit access to patient data to only those who need it to provide medical services.
- Regularly review security measures: Regularly review your security measures to ensure that they are up to date and effective in protecting patient data.
What are the consequences of non-compliance to the Privacy Rights Act?
Failure to comply with privacy laws such as the PRA and HIPAA can result in significant fines and legal action. Additionally, non-compliance can damage your reputation and erode patient trust.
It’s important to take patient privacy seriously and ensure that you are in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. This includes regularly reviewing your privacy policies and procedures to ensure that they are up to date and effective in protecting patient privacy.
Training staff on patient privacy and data protection
In addition to ensuring that your medical website is compliant with privacy laws, it’s also important to train your staff on patient privacy and data protection. This includes:
- Providing regular training: Provide regular training to your staff on patient privacy and data protection.
- Establishing policies and procedures: Establish policies and procedures for handling patient information and ensure that all staff members are trained on them.
- Limiting access: Limit access to patient information to only those who need it to provide medical services.
- Regularly reviewing policies: Regularly review your privacy policies and procedures to ensure that they are up to date and effective.
How to maintain patient privacy and trust through your medical website
Protecting patient privacy is crucial for maintaining patient trust and ensuring compliance with privacy laws. By following the best practices outlined in this article, you can ensure that your medical website is compliant with the PRA and HIPAA and that patient information is kept safe and secure.
Remember to regularly review your privacy policies and procedures to ensure that they are up to date and effective in protecting patient privacy. By doing so, you can maintain patient trust and confidence in your medical services.
If you have questions about these new rules or how to update your website to comply, please contact Practis today.