Marketing in a HIPAA-Compliant World
Because the world of marketing is always changing and evolving, any business can struggle to keep up. But healthcare providers have an extra challenge: they must ensure all their marketing efforts comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the federal law that guides how personal health information is managed and protected in the United States. Learn how to navigate healthcare marketing while safeguarding the protected health information (PHI) of your patients.
How Does HIPAA Affect Marketing?
First passed in 1996, HIPAA was established to modernize the rules for how healthcare information is shared. The HIPAA Privacy Rule is meant to prevent sensitive health information from being disclosed without a patient’s knowledge or consent. The Privacy Rule stipulates that covered entities (which include healthcare providers and insurance plans) must have security measures in place to protect patient information.
Best Practices for HIPAA Compliance
Complying with HIPAA doesn’t mean that you can’t promote your services. You have plenty of options when it comes to your marketing efforts – but you must be careful not to share any kind of PHI. Use these best practices throughout your organization:
Be Safe with Social Media
Social media marketing is a great way to give prospective patients a peek into your facility. But before posting a photo to Facebook or Instagram, always check the image carefully. Of course, you cannot photograph patients without their consent, but PHI is everywhere. For example, a photo of medical staff might have a computer screen or a patient’s paperwork in the background. Make sure your staff is trained to take appropriate photos and knows how to vet photos before posting them.
Keep Information General
You can share general information about your services, the conditions you diagnose and treat, and the procedures, surgeries, and other treatments you offer. General information isn’t specific to one patient, so there’s no risk of violating HIPAA regulations. It’s also a good idea to share updates such as:
- Opening a new facility or renovating an existing one
- Earning an award or certification
- Offering a new service
You can also highlight when you hire a new provider or staff member. Note that even with employees, you should have a signed release form to use their image in promotional materials.
Be Cautious with Testimonials
Testimonials are a great way to highlight specific services and share experiences from a patient’s point of view. However, you must have explicit, written permission from a patient to share their testimonial or feedback publicly. Of course, you should never share the patient’s last name (or any PHI). You may also want to ask if the patient would prefer to give a testimonial anonymously.
Choose Vendors Carefully
Anytime you’re outsourcing your marketing efforts, you need to vet third-party service providers. Any vendors you work with should be well-versed in HIPAA compliance because they may end up handling PHI. For example, if you have a monthly email newsletter, you might outsource the newsletter creation and dissemination to a marketing firm. You’ll need to provide them with a list of patient email addresses, which is a type of PHI. Thus, the vendor must know how to safely manage and store this information.
Choose MassLive Media for Healthcare Marketing
Patients have plenty of choices when it comes to healthcare – make sure you’re using your marketing channels to highlight what makes you unique. At MassLive Media, we help you reach new audiences and build consumer trust while ensuring all your strategies and materials are HIPAA-compliant. Our marketing experts offer:
- Search engine visibility: We can optimize your site to make it easier for patients to find you through organic searches.
- Social media: We simplify the content creation process and help you take advantage of social media advertising.
- Creative services: Our team takes branding, marketing, and content creation off your hands so you can focus on what you do best – provide great patient care.
For more information about MassLive Media’s marketing services, contact us today.