Best Practices for HIPAA-Compliant Digital Marketing
Digital marketing is a way for healthcare providers and practitioners to connect with patients and potential clients. But it takes more than publishing content, promoting services using videos, or posting on social media.
In this industry, you use patient health information, or protected health information (PHI), to create marketing content. For this, you need to adhere to set regulations called the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
HIPAA ensures that sensitive PHI is handled securely with patients’ knowledge. This guide helps you make HIPAA-compliant digital marketing plans for your healthcare practice or organization.
Develop HIPAA-Compliant Email Marketing Strategies
Email marketing must follow HIPAA rules because when people sign up, they give you sensitive information like their names and email addresses. Knowing what data to collect, how to do it, and how to handle this information to safeguard patients is crucial for practitioners and providers.
Digitalauthority.me reports that understanding HIPAA is crucial for digital marketers. The following are essential email marketing techniques to ensure HIPAA readiness:
- Obtain consent from your patients. Ask for patient permission to send marketing emails. Do so after a patient visit, at healthcare events, or in email opt-in forms from your website. Patients need to agree to a written consent form to receive marketing emails.
- Send only blind carbon copy (BCC) emails. BCC protects the privacy of patient email addresses. A recipient will not see other recipients’ email addresses included in the BCC field.
- Use business associate agreements (BAA). This is very important for all covered entities to do to stay in compliance with HIPAA because these agreements protect PHI from attacks.
- Be clear about why patients have to opt in. People must know what they are opting for when they provide their personal and contact information. Your intentions or goals regarding what your patients get in exchange for their PHI data should be clear.
- Add an unsubscribe link to your emails. A link to unsubscribe to your email marketing strategies must be available on all messages. This could be a simple link that leads to an opt-out form. Also leave your contact details on every email communication for when your patients want to talk to you directly.
- Know when and when not to send marketing emails. Around 33% of marketers send emails weekly, while 26% send marketing emails many times a month. Research and test email frequency according to client preference to get the best frequency. Also, determine the best time and day to send emails.
Create Websites That Meet HIPAA Requirements
Healthcare providers and professionals must also ensure their websites meet HIPAA requirements. Part of a successful digital marketing strategy is making interesting and useful websites for clients. Your website must provide the information your patients need. It must have the answer to their health or wellness issues.
But how do you know if your website is HIPAA-compliant or not? If you use a website form, like a newsletter sign-up form, a booking form, or a health quiz, to collect patient information, you must follow HIPAA.
If you are keeping and transmitting PHI data from your company website, like using it for marketing strategies, reporting, form creation, or advertising, then you must be 100% HIPAA compliant. Remember the following practices to create HIPAA-friendly sites:
- Use an encrypted server with backup systems for PHI. Encrypt PHI data collected by your website, store it on a trusted server, and keep backups on hand in case of a breach.
- Assign a HIPAA compliance team. Have a compliance officer or a team dedicated to HIPAA enforcement. This team ensures all your digital marketing strategies follow HIPAA regulations.
- Protect PHI and your healthcare website with SSL. Secure sockets layer (SSL) certificates are data files that encrypt information sent to servers. SSL-protected data ensures all PHI is always safe. Obtain SSL certificates from Certificate Authorities (CA) organizations online.
Create a Social Media Page That Conform to HIPAA
Healthcare professionals and organizations must recognize the power of social media marketing in 2022. A survey found that 98% of polled healthcare marketers had an active Facebook account. While social media is an excellent tool for marketing, your social media page should still be HIPAA-compliant.
Social media helps healthcare companies and professionals better engage with their clients. They use it to spread messages about health and wellness, tell people about new services, and offer deals and discounts.
However, marketers must also make sure that their plans are up-to-date, well-thought-out, and HIPAA-compliant. Observe the following practices:
- Ask for expressed consent before using PHI on ads and posts. Like sending marketing emails, ask for permission from your patients, followers, or respondents before using their PHI on your posts and ads.
- Do not use patient images. Ask permission before you take photographs of your patients, espcially if for social media marketing purposes. Your staff should not take photos inside your business or practice because this can lead to the accidental sharing of photographs of other patients and clients.
- Formulate a social media strategy with your team. This team creates strategies to ensure your staff adheres to HIPAA guidelines on social media. Regularly meet and train this team to ensure that they are aware of new regulations.
- Review all posts, interactions, comments, etc. before posting. Ensure that you filter all messages, posts, and comments and approve only those that follow HIPAA regulations.
- Respond to comments and reviews diligently. As much as possible, communicate via private messaging or chat. Encourage your patients and prospects who need to talk or share information to send you a private message.
With a HIPAA-compliant website, social media presence, and email, you can improve how you handle PHI in all of your marketing efforts and keep patient information safe at all times. Making sure HIPAA rules are followed also builds trust with patients and solidifies your authority in the healthcare industry. Embrace HIPAA today. More