It is a legal obligation for every medical service provider to safeguard a client’s right to privacy and protect their personal and medical information.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) is the law that ensures medical professionals meet this requirement. It is a requirement in the United States that all medical organizations are HIPAA compliant.
Today, we’re exploring a few ways to ensure that your healthcare marketing campaign meets these standards.
Ready to learn more? Let’s go!
Compliance is a Serious Issue
The law safeguards the security of medical information through legislative data privacy and security provisions. The Federal government enacted it more than 20 years ago, but it took almost a decade for its implementation.
Its gravity came with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and a 2,000-page rule book on how to achieve proper and meaningful use of the electronic medical records system.
It is, however, now more severe than ever with the Health and Human Services keen to see its enforcement through and confirm that every organization is HIPAA compliant. A portion of the ARRA known as the Health Information Technology Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) holds the security and privacy concerns related to electronic protected health information.
Therein lies all the guidelines on HIPAA compliant marketing for healthcare organizations.
Protection of health information, especially in an age where information is crucial and valuable is of major significance. People now take their privacy quite seriously, and enforcement of data security-related laws is quite rigorous.
Failure to comply with the HIPPA laws means facing dire consequences like hefty fines and other significant penalties including serving a prison sentence.
Not very many medical practices are aware of the weight and gravity of these matters. Few are adequately prepared and equipped with the necessary information on the specific requirements that fulfill HIPAA compliance.
Our HIPAA Security Suite is the one place, however, that you will find all you need to ensure that your organization is HIPAA compliant.
HIPAA and Modern-Day Medical Marketing
With recent technological developments, many medical practices conduct much of their work over the internet.
Also, more people are looking for health-related information online, and there is a lot of competition among health service providers. Statistics currently show that 72% of internet users conduct health-care related web searches.
Many medical service companies, therefore, turn to digital marketing strategies, tactics, and campaigns to keep up with current trends. There is an increased use of emails, websites, search engine optimization and social media platforms in healthcare to reach clients and remain competitive.
However, digital intervention makes the industry vulnerable to data security issues and protected information breaches.
For this reason, it is crucial that online marketing campaigns remain HIPAA compliant to avoid misuse and mishandling of patient information and other HIPAA violations and potential issues like civil suits.
Most marketers are not privy to the HIPAA requirements on the subject and interpreting the HIPAA law may be a bit complex for some. The following are some of the safest practices, narrowed down to ensure observance of the act’s requirement.
Privacy in General Advertising
Whether on digital or mainstream media, formal or written information about medical services, according to HIPAA regulations, should follow the rules directing the protection of Personal Health Information (PHI).
Therefore, matters like sharing personal patient data and real-life pictures in any marketing campaign are off the table.
For any marketing purpose that may require disclosure of patient information, however, a healthcare service provider ought to have written consent. The HIPAA privacy rule has all the elements and requirements specific for a valid written authorization.
If you are marketing to patients or prospective patients, we don’t recommend relying on your Notice of Privacy Practices as an adequate disclosure of your intent. We prefer you have your patients sign a specific agreement where you boldly state your intentions, and their signature is affirmation of their agreement to your practices.
There are two exclusions to this rule.
One is the traditional face-to-face interaction between the patient and medical personnel. The other is any promotional tokens or gifts bearing the provider’s name to the patient.
Email Marketing and HIPAA Compliant Websites
Email marketing is a proper consideration when thinking about growing your practice and promoting your health care services. The benefits are apparent in with more than 90% of online customers using and checking their emails daily. A dollar’s worth of email marketing investment expenditure can grant you an average of $44.52 worth of returns.
With these and more benefits that guarantee growth for your practice, it would be prudent not to let fear of HIPAA violations deter you from taking advantage. All you require is to know some of the methods that will help you remain compliant while reaping the benefits.
One of the fundamental practices for HIPAA compliant emails is getting client consent.
Your website ought to inform the visitor that they are opting for the delivery marketing materials when they sign up. This information should automatically accompany every email and give them an option to unsubscribe from the service.
Email encryption is another critical aspect of HIPAA compliance because names and email addresses fall under Personal Health Information (PHI). Moreover, make sure to exclude all sensitive client-specific data from marketing emails including information on their condition, test results, and other personal information.
Email marketing should only contain general subjects focused on growing your practice like events and services.
Finally, it would be wise to sign a Business Associate Agreement with your email service provider. They ease your email marketing efforts by taking full responsibility for the protection of client information when compromised, providing email encryption, and secure messaging services.
Ensure that the provider fully understands the HIPAA regulations to safeguard your marketing interests.
HIPAA Compliance in Social Media Health Marketing
This trend is taking the marketing industry by storm and all trade service sectors stand to gain a lot by using social media to promote their brands.
In the healthcare sector, marketing via this platform enables your organization to obtain new clients and involve and engage them more. It is also an excellent way to connect professionally and share information with peers and colleagues.
You can enjoy the marketing benefits social media platforms offer while still ensuring that you are HIPAA compliant.
The initial step is understanding all concerns in social media medical marketing visa vie HIPAA patient privacy regulations. Then, develop a comprehensive employee-use social media policy, educate your entire staff on how to use it and implement it.
Download a free copy of our editable social media policy here.
Regulate Your Content.
Have a party in the legal and compliance department authorize content before posting. Alternatively, use technology that monitors your posts and flags any issues of concern.
An appropriate HIPAA compliant measure includes having a tracking system that can also archive or receive electronic information in case you need evidence when facing a HIPAA violation accusation.
Regularly audit and monitor your accounts to ensure you remain compliant. Remember the most important of all is to make sure that you do not post any PHI or personal medical advice.
Learn More About Hipaa Compliance from Us
HIPAA Security Suite provides a comprehensive program and all the information that your healthcare organization needs to be HIPAA compliant.
Our package covers an in-depth security risk assessment, employee training, documentation and certification, remediation solutions and security appliances and devices.
For more information on HIPAA or cyber-security issues, contact us.