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Joel Headley

How the Google Chrome July 2018 update affects doctor websites

Google Chrome could be giving your patients reasons to distrust your doctor website. Find out what changed after the Google Chrome Update — and what you can do to remedy it.

google chrome check for updates

This blog is Part 1 in a two-part series about the July 2018 Google Chrome version 68 update. Once you’re finished reading this blog, check out Part 2.

In 1966, 73 percent of Americans had great confidence in medical leaders, according to the New England Journal of Medicine. By 2012, that number dipped to just 34 percent.

A trusting relationship between provider and patient, some could argue, is the cornerstone of healthcare. Not only because patients who trust their doctors are more likely to follow treatment plans — one study found that about two-thirds of patients with high levels of trust always take their medications, but only 14 percent of those with low levels of trust do — but also because trust helps prevent harmful health behavior, like skipping flu shots.

As the doctor-patient relationship continues to migrate online, it is crucial that patients feel they can trust their doctor’s digital offerings — particularly because incidents of compromised data are increasingly common. Now thanks to Google Chrome updates, however, your website could be curbing your patients’ confidence and trust in your practice, and also hurting your ability to attract new patients. Read on for details.

Check out: The right way to enhance your healthcare website and SEO

Google Chrome updates and your doctor website

For some time, browser manufacturers have made attempts to message their users when sites are transmitting their information securely. Google Chrome has been a leader in this effort, making its messaging increasingly upfront over the last couple of years. The most drastic change, however, comes now with the release of version 68 of the Google Chrome browser.

Google Chrome now marks all HTTP websites as “Not Secure” in the URL bar. (See an example of a Secure HTTPS site below.) The purpose of this is to inspire confidence in users that any form or information shared with the site is only between them and that site.

Google Chrome updates

Now, you might be asking yourself, “What is HTTP? And what is the difference between HTTP and HTTPS?” HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. In layman’s terms, HTTP is the foundation for data and information communication on the internet. In technical terms, it is a request-response protocol created in the early days of the internet between computer clients and computer servers.

These days, a typical client would be a web browser or a mobile app, whereas a server would be the place the website is being hosted or where the application’s data is stored. The client submits an HTTP request message to the server, and the server responds with the data and information.

When HTTP was created, there was no way to foresee just how crucial the internet would become to our society and, therefore, there was little thought into security. This is fine … until you go to a website that might have sensitive information, or requires you to type a password, or you buy something with a credit card number, or you’re looking at a page on your doctor’s website about a private health condition. So, basically any website a person might visit these days.

What worked back then is no longer sufficient or secure enough for the modern internet. That’s where HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) comes in. HTTPS adds a security layer to the protocol by encrypting the information in transit between the client and the server. So, when you send your credit card information on a site, it is protected by HTTPS while you send it. (There are no guarantees it remains secure once it reaches the company you’re purchasing from, however.)

The big things HTTPS helps prevent are attacks like man-in-the-middle, eavesdropping, and information tampering, all of which have become common.

To check to see whether your doctor website is HTTP or HTTPS, simply type its URL into Google Chrome. If it is flagged as Not Secure, prepare yourself to upgrade to HTTPS. To continue reading this series on Google Chrome Updates, visit this webpage.

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Joel Headley
Joel Headley is Director of Local Search and Marketing at PatientPop, the market leader in healthcare practice growth. With a decade of experience at Google, Joel is an expert in optimizing websites for search and has a deep understanding of how doctors are found and assessed online.

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