Expert Blog: 8 Questions to Ask When Selecting Web Hosting for Healthcare

Photo Rahul Varshneya, co-founder and president of Arkenea
Rahul Varshneya, co-founder and president of Arkenea

Choosing a web hosting provider for a healthcare business is a challenging task. Today, for any healthcare business trying to target growth and establish a position in the market, it isn’t enough to simply have a functioning web application. Not only do you need a reliable web hosting provider that ensures optimal functioning, but you also need one that ensures adequate security and compliance to regulatory norms that healthcare data entails.

According to one recent report, more than half-billion dollars get lost every year due to slow websites along with conversion rates which can drop to around 7% as a result.

High-performing and reliable web hosting is a fundamental part of any successful website. When you’re thinking about building a new website for your healthcare business, failing to choose the right service can have catastrophic effects on your business as a whole.

In this piece, we will be looking at a few important questions healthcare business owners should be asking before choosing a web hosting service provider.

What kind of Uptime Score and Server Reliability does the Provider offer?

When you are a healthcare provider, irrespective of whether you provide direct or outpatient care, having around-the-clock accessibility is a must. Therefore, a web host that operates 24×7 is very important for the smooth functioning of your business.

A web hosting service operating on a stable network connection and powerful server is what you should be on the lookout for. The ideal uptime score is 99.5% and uptime below 99% is considered highly unacceptable.

There are multiple ways to obtain information on a web host’s server reliability. One way to do this is by employing server monitoring tools which can help you track your web hosting provider.

Is the Provider’s Service Compliant with HIPAA?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 states that any information that consists of medical data that could be used to identify an individual and that was created, disclosed, or used as part of providing healthcare services is termed ‘Protected Health Information’ or PHI.

If yours is a healthcare organization based out of the US, it becomes mandatory for you to store, process and transmit PHI in accordance with HIPAA rules and regulations. Your website also needs to take into account important considerations that ensure HIPAA compliance.

Standard web hosting providers do not have the necessary protections in place. In addition, most times, standard web hosts do not understand what those protections will be needing through their end. Therefore, one best practice here would be to make sure that the web hosting service you choose provides HIPAA compliant hosting.

What is the Provider’s Security Policy?

Whether it is a patient’s very first experience with your website entering private medical information or a repeated patient trying to renew their subscription, a secure healthcare website is critical to maintaining the same amount of professionalism and trust you provide in your office.

Security experts say cyber criminals place more value on an individual’s medical information than credit card information. Therefore, you need to ensure that the hosting provider you choose has supplemental layers of security measures in place to protect the information on your website. You need to enquire about their security policy and be well-versed with it.

One way of doing this is asking whether the provider’s service includes SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) which is nothing but a commonly employed protective measure that encrypts data from your website to the hosting server in order to ensure safekeeping and privacy.

Does the Provider offer a Range of Plans? How Easy is it to Scale Up/Down?

Lets face it, there’s no one-size-fits all when it comes to healthcare and every organization is going to have distinct web hosting requirements.

Try to inquire with the hosting providers you shortlist regarding the kinds of hosting environments they provide. Also, ask them about their policies in case you wish to scale up or down at a later time.

Go with the hosting provider who offers a wide range of options. By doing so, you can alter your plans easily as and when your needs change. Also, you won’t need to switch providers in the future. Instead, you can upgrade services to match your needs.

Can Multiple Domains be included within the Plan?

If your healthcare business is expanding, it is possible that you already own or are in the process of expanding to more than one domain. If you choose a hosting provider that allows adding multiple domains then you can accommodate these in the same plan. Hence, try to make a domain capacity check before you invest in a web hosting plan.

More often than not, hosting companies allow at least 25 add-on domains to one account but some web hosts allow only one.

What is the Provider’s Downtime History?

Downtime may be defined as the period during which a website is inaccessible to users.

Try asking your hosting provider how frequently they have had to face downtime issues in the past. Their answer ideally should be “never” but that’s not possible in most cases. Even the best of hosting providers have experienced downtime occasionally.

Therefore, choose a hosting provider that has had minimal such experiences in the past. You can also look up reviews or post questions relating to any doubts you might possess on public forums.

What is the Provider’s Backup Policy?

Every web hosting service is going to have a different set of protocols when it comes to backing up data. Some web hosting providers conduct backup more than once a day while others do it once a week.

You should make it a point to inquire about every provider’s backup policy. Then think through and select the one that best caters to your particular needs. Also, make sure that your databases are being backed up too, not just your files.

How Responsive is the Provider’s Customer Care and Tech Support Service?

To find out about a certain provider’s tech support and customer services, you can try contacting other customers associated with them and get to know about their experiences. At the same time, it is also important for you to remember that technical support should be made available through the provider’s end 24×7 (including holidays).

Also, try to ask about the average resolution time and response rate of every provider you’ve shortlisted before you zero-in-on the one that’s best.

Finally, the most important consideration would be to look for a provider that isn’t trying to talk you into digging a hole in your pocket. There are ample custom web hosting plans available with some reputed providers in the market today.

Try to tailor the solution as per your needs. Remember, you are the customer in this case and you should be the only one deciding what you need and how often you’re going to need it.

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