Why You Need Terms of Use and Privacy Policies for Your Healthcare Website

Learn how website terms of use and privacy policies can help you limit your liability from misuse, keep you compliant, and protect your practice.

Terms of Use and Privacy Policies

It has never been easier to publish a website. If you own a healthcare practice, a website is not just a great way to advertise your services to potential patients. It can also give you an outlet to share your medical knowledge and expertise with the rest of the world.

You also need to protect yourself legally. You have probably seen links labeled “terms of use,” “terms and conditions,” or “terms of service” on most popular websites. And increasingly, you have seen links to a site’s “privacy policy.” 

As a result, you’ve probably wondered if you need a terms of use page and privacy policy on your healthcare practice website. The answer is an unqualified “yes.”

Website Terms of Use

A “terms of use” page contains legal disclaimers related to the content of your website, spelling out the conditions under which visitors may access and use the information provided. Strictly speaking, you are not legally required to post terms of use on your website. However, it is best practice to have one.

Terms of use can limit your liability in the event someone misuses or misapplies your content. Limiting your liability becomes particularly critical for websites that contain medical information. As we all know, the internet is not infallible. Even the best-written, best-edited sites contain factual errors. The last thing you need is for someone to rely on a mistake on your website, injure themselves, and then sue you.

Therefore, your terms of use should make it explicitly clear that nothing contained on the website constitutes individual medical advice. Under no circumstances should anyone, including an existing patient, rely on your website in the event of a medical emergency. And visitors must know that merely accessing your website does not create any legally binding provider-patient relationship.

Website Privacy Policy

Unlike a terms of use page, privacy policies are required by law if your website collects personal information from users—even somethings as simple as an email address. For example, many healthcare websites feature an online contact form. If your website includes a contact form or any form that requests contact information, you absolutely need a privacy policy.

In short, privacy policies explain to users:

  • What information you collect. This includes technical data such as device identifiers, web addresses, location information, and “cookies.”
  • How you will use or analyze any information collected.
  • The circumstances under which you may share the information with third parties, including companies that may host your website or provide you with data storage services.

Keep in mind that unlike the typical blog or small business website, your medical practice is subject to HIPAA and other healthcare-specific privacy laws. You need to take this into account when creating a privacy policy for your website. Thus, you may find it most helpful to work with an experienced healthcare lawyer who focuses on assisting small and mid-sized practices with these types of compliance matters.

Learn more about our advertising reviewbiometric information protection, HIPAA compliance, and corporate compliance planning work by reviewing the resources on our website. 

To schedule a free consultation with one of our healthcare attorneys practicing in Illinois, New York, Connecticut, Florida, Michigan, or Wisconsin, call our office at (312) 985-6484 or visit our online booking page.

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This blog is made for educational purposes and is not intended to be specific legal advice to any particular person. It does not create an attorney-client relationship between our firm and the reader. It should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction.

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