The Coffey Blog

Healthcare website hosting: 4 things to consider

Posted on: Monday, June 24, 2019

The Coffey Team

Hosting is an important part of the success of your healthcare website.

There are plenty of web hosting companies out there to choose from. How can you make sure that the company you're considering can meet your specific needs as a healthcare organization? Here are four questions to consider when choosing a web hosting provider.

1. How long have they been in business?

Hosting providers come and go—sometimes quickly. And starting a new hosting company is surprisingly easy, even for businesses who have almost no capital investment funds available.

Companies with stability tend to be companies you can count on over the long haul. That could reduce your risk of a nasty surprise that takes down your website—or ups your prices. Be wary of a "great deal" from a hosting business that doesn't have a strong track record.

Good questions to ask: How long have you been in business? How many of your customers have been with you for more than 5 years? Can you demonstrate that you have a stable business model?

2. Do they have server redundancy solutions in place?

Redundancy is crucial for a hosting provider. Redundant systems help ensure that a website stays online, even if something unexpected happens. A fully prepared provider will have the necessary infrastructure in place to survive many different types of outages.

Good questions to ask: If you lose power, do you have a backup power supply to support all necessary servers and services to keep my website online? Servers put off quite a bit of heat—can you keep functioning when an air-conditioning unit goes down? Do you have multiple paths to/from the internet from different carriers, in case one goes down?

3. What are their server capacity options?

Hosting plans come in many shapes and sizes, from shared hosting instances that cost a few dollars a month (where your website lives on a server with many other websites) to colocation (where you place your own physical servers in somebody else's data center).

Choosing the best option for your website comes down to a balance between budget and capacity: How much traffic do you get and what can the chosen plan (and your budget) support? Your company should spend time sizing hosting to make sure your site is performing as it should without costing more than it needs to.

Good questions to ask: Do you have a hosting plan that matches the amount of traffic I typically generate? Do you offer scaling programs that adjust my level of hosting based on fluctuating traffic demands?

4. Are they HIPAA and PCI compliant?

If your website accepts online payments, your website must be PCI compliant. Things like encryption of data at rest and the ability to turn off TLS1.0 and TLS1.1 are important boxes to check in this category, and not all hosting plans and providers will give you this level of flexibility.

If you don't know what these terms mean, make sure you're working with a vendor that does. Hosting is a technical process, and you'll want to make sure you're connected with a team that can handle those details.

You may need to make sure your chosen hosting provider will enter into a HIPAA Business Associate Agreement (BAA) with you in case any protected health information (PHI) will flow through your website. If you're not sure whether you'll deal with any form of PHI on your website, consult with your organization's privacy officer and consider pursuing a BAA just in case.

It is important to know that there can be trade-offs here, as the largest providers (Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google) have standard BAAs they won't usually alter for individual customers.

Good questions to ask: How will you support my need for PCI compliance? Will you enter a BAA with me, and can you alter that BAA to meet my individual needs?

All your website needs from one vendor

One of the big benefits to working with Coffey is that we can help you with all aspects of your website redesign, including hosting. To start a conversation and learn more about our design, content and hosting services, call 888.805.9101 or email us.

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