November 7, 2023

Hospital associations file lawsuit against HHS over new website tracking rule

Editor's Note

A number of prominent hospital associations have filed a lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) over guidance that seeks to prohibit them from using tracking tools to monitor visitors on their websites, the American Hospital Association (AHA) November 2 reports.

A few highlights of the AHA press release include:

  • The lawsuit involves the AHA, Texas Hospital Association, Texas Health Resources, and United Regional Health Care System, which collectively argue that the rule impedes their ability to share healthcare information with the communities they serve, to analyze website data to improve access, and to use the information to drive public health initiatives.
  • The lawsuit comes in response to a December 2022 HHS “Bulletin,” which restricts hospitals from using standard third-party web technologies that capture IP addresses on portions of hospitals’ public-facing webpages that address health conditions or healthcare providers. 
  • Under the new rule, if a hospital captures an IP address from a website visitor, they would be subject to federal enforcement and significant civil penalties.

The hospital associations argue that they continue to honor HIPAA, the longstanding privacy law, and have the right to examine their own website records and use that data to provide timely communication with the communities they serve.


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