With mass marketing in the healthcare field, it’s easy to stay compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) because you aren’t getting personal. However, research shows people respond more to marketing messages and communications that are personalized to them.
When it comes to this personalized marketing, you have to be careful in order to remain HIPAA compliant. Let’s take a look at four key ways you can achieve healthcare marketing privacy.
First, you need to understand what HIPAA is all about. The aim of the HIPAA privacy rule is to protect what’s known as protected health information (PHI). People are entitled to having their PHI kept private, so marketers need to understand this requirement inside and out.
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), this includes “all ‘individually identifiable health information’ held or transmitted by a covered entity or its business associate, in any form or media, whether electronic, paper, or oral.”
PHI is essentially any medical or health-related record that identifies an individual. A record could identify an individual by including their name, address, birth date, Social Security Number, photo, or other identifiers. In healthcare marketing, privacy is key, so make sure you understand exactly what needs to be kept confidential.
The solution to complying with HIPAA may seem to be avoiding PHI altogether. However, PHI can help you tailor marketing messages to each healthcare member or patient, so it’s best if you can use this data to your advantage.
For example, an insurance company or a medical office could remind someone that they’re due for a routine screening based on their health history. Without that health history, the sender wouldn’t be able to make that personalized recommendation.
So, what can you do? The key is getting permission from patients or healthcare members to include PHI in your communications with them. Marketing to anyone using PHI requires patient authorization. Use opt-in forms so members grant permission to market to them in these ways. Also provide the option to specify certain marketing channels because some patients may be comfortable with receiving direct mail but not email, for instance.
Some healthcare members may grant permission for you to use their information in marketing materials to others, as well. For example, a testimonial about the results someone achieved with bariatric surgery along with their photo may be a great way to market this treatment to others if the patient consents to sharing their story.
Even if you’re careful to only use PHI appropriately, you could still make this data vulnerable if you don’t protect it against hackers. More than 550 organizations reported healthcare data breaches to HHS in 2021, so you can’t be too careful when it comes to putting security measures in place.
Some data storage and communications methods may not be adequate when it comes to HIPAA compliance. The standards to be aware of include the The Security Standards for the Protection of Electronic Protected Health Information, typically referred to as the Security Rule. This rule specifies that covered entities must keep unauthorized persons from viewing electronic PHI (e-PHI) and must take steps to protect against possible security threats.
One important way of meeting this standard is to encrypt stored data. Other cybersecurity measures like firewalls and strong password protections can also help you keep your members’ data safe. Effective healthcare marketing privacy involves a variety of measures, so it’s best to consult with a professional to ensure you’re meeting the standard.
Because navigating HIPAA can be complicated, one of the best moves you can make is to find a marketing partner who is well-versed in HIPAA regulations and the healthcare space.
A marketer who isn’t familiar with your industry may inadvertently cause you to violate HIPAA in your marketing campaigns. You need a marketing partner who already knows how to help you leverage your members’ personal data in a way that is fully HIPAA compliant from start to finish.
Baesman is a marketing partner you can trust for personalized, HIPAA-compliant marketing and healthcare member communications. Some of the largest healthcare providers in the world trust Baesman’s HIPAA-compliant processes, which include state-of-the-art data encryption and secure network layering. At every stage, we’ll keep your members’ data protected.
Health insurance companies especially love our Intuition platform for rewards programs. This platform can help you reward healthy behaviors without ever violating members’ privacy.
Want to learn more about the importance of personalizing your marketing efforts? Read our eBook, The Customer Experience Just Got More Personal.