Navigating HIPAA Compliance Marketing for Multi-Location Healthcare Organizations

by | Jul 25, 2023 | Digital Marketing, Marketing Strategy | 0 comments

HIPPA Compliance

Running marketing for multi-location healthcare organizations is challenging, to say the least. Not only are you trying to reach a broader audience while still providing personalized messaging, you also need to ensure that all of your marketing efforts are compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). While HIPAA rules are absolutely vital to protect patient privacy, it can make traditional marketing practices much more difficult. Notice we said more difficult…but not impossible!   Let’s dive into what you can do to successfully market your organization while still remaining HIPAA compliant. 

Understanding HIPAA Rules and Requirements

HIPAA includes three important rules to consider:

  1. The Privacy Rule protects Individually Identifiable Health Information (PHI).  This is considered any medical or personal information that can be used to identify an individual. This information includes (but is not limited to):
  • Name
  • Age
  • Medical history
  • Address (or even geographical area)
  • Test results
  • Photographs of identifying features
  • IP address
  • Email address
  1. The Security Rule takes the protection of PHI a step further. It mandates healthcare facilities also implement comprehensive safeguards for Electronic PHI (ePHI) used in marketing campaigns. 
  2. If these two rules are not followed, the Breach Notification Rule kicks into play. If any PHI is disclosed, it is considered a breach that must be reported. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) can audit healthcare organizations and any of their marketing partners and hold them accountable (including significant fines) for any breaches that occur. 

Tips for Marketing

With rules as stringent and all-encompassing as you just read, you might feel like isn’t any way you can successfully market your multi-location healthcare organization. Take heart! While HIPAA certainly poses a challenge, you can still successfully market your organization. It just takes careful thinking and certain safeguards. Here are some tips for making your marketing efforts pay off.

Get consent. Getting written, signed consent from patients to receive marketing materials from you unlocks many of the HIPAA-compliant marketing doors. Once signed, you’re free to send marketing material like emails and mailers to their home and email addresses. 

If you want to include a testimonial on your website, social media, or other marketing materials, you also need to secure written consent from a patient. Remember that the use of any likeness is protected, even if it is not of their face. If any identifying feature (tattoos, teeth, etc.) is in the image, you must have written consent.

Pay attention to tracking

Since patient IP addresses and current (or potential) diagnoses count as PHI, you have to be very careful about remarketing campaigns. That means, if a current (or future) patient visits a services landing page on your website, you cannot market that specific service to them. Instead, you can market the practice generally, without mentioning the specific service. 

Be careful with social media

While social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram might have strict internal rules about advertising healthcare services, they are not considered HIPAA compliant. To be compliant, any marketing partner must sign a business associate agreement (BAA) where both parties agree to comply and protect HIPAA rules. Many platforms do not want to be held liable, and will not sign. These include:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Linked-in
  • Many CRM platforms

Focus on SEO

Organic searches based on keywords are allowed under HIPAA. Be sure to beef up your SEO on your website, and take advantage of search engine advertising or contextual advertising. You will still need to follow ad platforms’ advertising policies. You can also retarget on your website and offer cross- and up-sells.

Understand Nuance

HIPAA rules are complex and often confusing. Your best course of action is go research the rules thoroughly and collaborate with your compliance office to ensure that you are protecting both your patients and your organization. A good place to start is HHS’ own description of HIPAA and marketing. =

Multi-location marketing for healthcare facilities presents both opportunities and challenges. By understanding the rules and requirements of HIPAA and implementing best practices, you can successfully navigate the complexities of digital marketing while safeguarding patient privacy and security. Striving for HIPAA compliance not only builds trust with patients but also ensures that you can continue to grow your organization. If you need help with your marketing, Moxie Tonic is here to help! Check out our guide for Multi-Site Healthcare Marketing, request a marketing roadmap, or schedule a call to learn how we can support your marketing efforts.

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