In 2020, the US Department of Health and Human Services enforced more financial penalties than any year prior for HIPAA violations. 2021 had the second-highest total, meaning the fines are only going up. In addition to increasing data breaches at healthcare websites, it’s more important than ever for hosting providers to be HIPAA compliant.
Penalties can be devastating to a business. By the end of September 2022, the Office for Civil Rights had settled or imposed fines in 126 cases (since 2003), with the total dollar amount exceeding $133 million.
Picking the right provider is critical for healthcare entities wishing to avoid legal issues. If you’re looking for a hosting provider that can help you meet HIPAA compliance requirements, here are seven of the best.
Founded in 1997, LiquidWeb is one of the most trusted hosting solutions in the world. An audit was completed in 2017 by UHY LLP that confirmed LiquidWeb's dedicated hosting and dedicated cloud hosting were HIPAA compliant, along with several other security standards.
With an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and a Net Promoter Score of 67, plenty of satisfied customers are using their solutions.
What Makes LiquidWeb Tick?
LiquidWeb's primary focus is on providing excellent customer service, and that's one of the reasons why they're perfect for those looking for a HIPAA-compliant hosting provider.
They have a team of in-house experts available 24/7/365 to help with anything you need, whether it's general questions or troubleshooting technical issues. They also offer a wide range of services, including managed WordPress hosting, VPS hosting, and more.
LiquidWeb HIPAA-Compliant Hosting Plans & Pricing
LiquidWeb’s HIPAA-compliant hosting plans start at $229/month for a Linux dedicated server and $272/month for a Windows dedicated machine. It can get much more comprehensive than that, with multi-server packages starting as high as $743/month.
Standalone HIPAA Server
- Fully managed dedicated server with 24/7/365 On-Site Support
- Support Acronis cyber backup & LiquidWeb ServerSecurePLUS
- Linux Server ($229/mo) or Windows Server ($272/mo)
HIPAA Server & Firewall Package
- Fully managed dedicated server with 24/7/365 On-Site Support
- Hardware Firewall & VPN included
- Support Acronis cyber backup & LiquidWeb ServerSecurePLUS
- Linux Server ($428/mo) or Windows Server ($471/mo)
HIPAA Multi-Server Package
- Fully managed dedicated servers with 24/7/365 On-Site Support
- Support Acronis cyber backup & LiquidWeb ServerSecurePLUS included
- Fully customizable to specific HIPAA hosting needs & requirements
- Linux Server ($657/mo) or Windows Server ($743/mo)
LiquidWeb Pros & Cons
- Excellent customer service
- Global coverage
- Trusted brand
- Wide range of services
- A bit more expensive than some other lower-quality providers
* Button link to full details of LiquidWeb's HIPAA-compliant hosting.
2. Amazon Web Services
AWS focuses on NIST 800-53 and FedRAMP compliance, both of which are stricter than HIPAA. However, because of the high bar set by AWS, many companies that use their services can also confidently say they're HIPAA compliant.
Benefits of Amazon Web Services
AWS provides a long list of services that support HIPAA compliance, including data encryption, identity and access management, security monitoring and logging, and more. While their infrastructure can be complex, they have a comprehensive suite of tools to build a secure environment.
AWS Plans & Pricing
One of the most appealing parts of AWS for companies is its free tier of tools, including AWS CodeBuild and CodePipeline for DevOps CI/CD practices. That doesn't accurately represent the cost of HIPAA-compliant hosting, though, especially as many businesses will hire third-party developers to help manage their AWS services.
AWS Pros & Cons
- Comprehensive and trusted security infrastructure
- Many HIPAA-compliant services
- Can be complex to set up and manage
- Can be difficult to predict costs
3. Microsoft Azure
Like AWS, the Azure cloud infrastructure cannot be classified as HIPAA-compliant at the moment, so instead models its security over a higher set of standards. You can't find a much more trusted brand regarding cloud hosting.
The Department of Defense, for instance, uses its Azure Government platform to transmit and store classified data.
Benefits of Microsoft Azure
With a relatively easy-to-use interface and scalable services, Azure has a lot to offer businesses of all sizes. Their hybrid capabilities are top-notch and allow for a smooth transition to the cloud, even if you're not ready to go all in.
Microsoft Azure Plans & Pricing
With a pay-as-you-go model, you only ever spend what you use, so there are no upfront costs or long-term commitments. You can also take advantage of Azure's free trial to explore the platform and get a feel for how it works before committing to anything.
They even have a price match offer against AWS, so you can be sure you're getting the best deal.
Microsoft Azure Pros & Cons
- Integrates with on-premises systems
- Easy to use
- Highly scalable
- Some features can be expensive
- Support can be lacking at times
Founded in 1994 just as the internet was taking off, Atlantic.net has been a reliable provider of hosting services for nearly 30 years. They're one of the providers that will sign a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) with their customers, which HIPAA requires for any company handling ePHI.
Audited for HIPAA and HITECH compliance in 2015, Atlantic.net's servers are some of the most secure.
Benefits of Atlantic HIPAA-Compliant Hosting
Atlantic.net provides a higher level of customer support than many other hosting providers, which can be beneficial when getting help with HIPAA compliance-related issues.
Additionally, their wide range of services can accommodate businesses of all sizes, from small startups to large enterprises.
Atlantic HIPAA SErver Plans & Pricing
Though they don't list prices directly online, Atlantic's basic HIPAA package starts at $280/month. They offer a free trial period but expect to pay significant amounts for their more comprehensive plans.
Atlantic Pros & Cons
- 100% uptime guarantee
- Works with trusted institutions (Harvard, Purdue)
- Suitable for businesses of all sizes
- Can be expensive
- Limited international presence
A major player in the hosting world, RackSpace is a managed cloud provider that offers both public and private clouds, as well as dedicated servers. They follow the HITRUST CSF, a widely recognized security framework that is built on the principles of HIPAA, HITECH, and other compliance regulations.
They are focused on the medical industry and have a long list of satisfied customers like McKesson, a healthcare services and information technology company.
Benefits of RackSpace
RackSpace is one of the most popular hosting providers because they're reliable, offers great customer support, and has a long history of happy customers.
Rackspace will sign a BAA with its customers and is committed to helping you meet your HIPAA compliance needs.
RackSpace Plans & Pricing
While the company has very competitive prices, their bare-bones packages usually are not enough for companies handling ePHI. You'll likely need to upgrade to a more expensive package, which will fall in line with most other providers.
RackSpace Pros & Cons
- Offers both public and private cloud
- Follow the HITRUST CSF
- Competitive pricing
- No free tier
- Sometimes limited technical support
There used to be two companies, Hostway and Hosting, that offered similar services but directly competed with each other. In 2019, they joined forces and rebranded as Ntirety.
With their new combined efforts, they're now one of the largest hosting providers in the world, with over 400 employees and data centers on different continents. They're also one of the few that can offer a full suite of HIPAA-compliant hosting solutions, including shared, VPS, cloud, and dedicated servers.
Benefits of Ntirety
The most significant thing you'll notice with Ntirety is the unique service every client receives. Everything is built based on your specific needs, and they'll do a full audit of your current environment before making any recommendations. They'll also help you develop a migration plan so there's no downtime during the switchover to their services.
Ntirety Plans & Pricing
Like most companies, they offer tiered pricing with additional features the more you pay. While it can get pricey, complete transparency shows you precisely what you're getting and in which areas you could afford to reduce spending.
Ntirety Pros & Cons
- 14 data centers worldwide
- Client-specific packages
- Relatively new brand
Especially for European companies looking for HIPAA-compliant hosting, OVHCloud is a great option. They're one of the largest European cloud providers and have a considerable number of data centers all over the world. They build their servers, which helps them maintain tight security and comply with the leading security standards.
Benefits of OVHCloud
Because they are such a big organization, OVHCloud can leverage economies of scale to bring its price down significantly. While some of their premium packages can still be quite expensive, the bare bones are among the cheapest on the market.
OVHCloud Plans & Pricing
Their private cloud hosting packs start at $1,669/month and only increase from there. Prices are more reasonable for public cloud, with packages starting at a mere $29.04/month. Everything in between is also possible, with various packages for whatever you need.
OVHCloud Pros & Cons
- Data centers worldwide with a focus on Europe
- Trusted brand with decades of experience
- Free instance network traffic or API calls
- Some believe they have a controversial history as they hosted Wikileaks
What is HIPAA?
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is a US law designed to protect the privacy of patient health information. It established two “rules” that must be followed by anyone handling this type of data: the Privacy Rule and the Security Rule.
The Privacy Rule covers how personal health information (PHI) can be used and disclosed. Meanwhile, the Security Rule defines technical safeguards for storing and transmitting electronic personal health information (ePHI).
The point was to:
- Give patients more control over their health information.
- Protect the confidentiality and security of patient health information.
- Help make sure that health information is accurate and available when needed.
- Encourage healthcare providers to adopt new technology.
HIPAA was then extended further in 2009 with the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH).
PHI includes any demographic information that can be used to identify an individual, such as name, address, birth date, Social Security number, medical records, etc.
ePHI is any PHI stored or transmitted electronically. This would include PHI in an email or stored on a server.
That means institutions and companies that host health information must protect this data in transit and at rest.
HIPAA Compliance Obligations
To be “HIPAA compliant,” a hosting provider must take extra steps to protect ePHI from unauthorized access, destruction, use, modification, or disclosure.
This involves ensuring physical security (like restricted access to servers), logical security (like password protection and firewalls), and administrative security (like employee training and incident response plans).
For a comprehensive list of the technical, physical, and administrative safeguards required by HIPAA, check out the Security Rule section of the HHS website.
3 Important Considering Factors When Choosing a HIPAA Hosting
Before you choose a HIPAA-compliant hosting provider, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
- The size of your organization: If you're a large company with thousands of employees, you'll need a different solution than a small startup.
- Your budget: Some providers are more expensive than others. Make sure you pick one that fits within your budget.
- Your needs: Not all hosting providers offer the same services. Some specialize in specific areas like e-commerce or WordPress hosting. Make sure the provider you choose offers the services you need.
Once you've considered these factors, you'll be able to narrow down your options and choose the best provider for your needs.
It's a vast, open sea out there regarding hosting providers, with many of them claiming to be the best or most secure. However, only a handful can provide the level of security required by HIPAA.
The seven providers on this list are all great options for companies looking for a HIPAA-compliant solution. Still, it’s important to remember that not all hosting providers are created equal. Make sure you research and choose the one that's right for you.