One of the biggest challenges any healthcare organization faces is communicating with patients personally without violating HIPAA guidelines. Unfortunately, when email marketing strategies run afoul of this important law, it’s usually due to sharing details that include PHI.
So, how can providers like a dental office avoid costly violations? Read on to learn more about HIPAA, its requirements, and ten tips to create a HIPAA-compliant email marketing strategy.
How Does HIPAA Define Marketing?
Under HIPAA, marketing is defined as creating a communication regarding products or services that encourages recipients to purchase them. Also, remember that these communications are a form of marketing, and your organization can only send them after having first received permission from your intended patients.
Confused? Consider the following guidelines to ensure you meet this area of HIPAA compliance:
Ask Before You Send
If your practice hasn’t already created or updated your patient forms with a marketing acknowledgment, now is the time to get it done. The HIPAA permission requirement is one of the easiest aspects of the law to violate but the easiest to comply with.
Double Layer Your Opt-in Options
Even though your patients might have authorized receiving marketing communications in their initial treatment authorization forms, it doesn’t hurt to confirm their acknowledgment. Therefore, before sending them any HIPAA-compliant email marketing communications, please send an email confirming their opting in first.
Make It Easy to Opt-out
HIPAA Law requires your healthcare organization to make it easy for patients to unsubscribe from your email list. The best way to meet these criteria is to include a link in your emails that recipients can quickly click and complete the unsubscription process conveniently.
Beware of Sharing Too Personal Content
In matters where HIPAA laws apply, like dental newsletters, the scope of information you can put in these communications is limited. So, when creating content for your newsletters, ask yourself if someone could discern your recipient’s health information by reading it. If the answer is yes, then you want to rework your content.
Remind Patients to Use an Authorized Portal
Email is extremely convenient, but HIPAA demands a specific level of data security when communicating about health matters. Make sure to include a link to your patient portal or secure communication platform and remind patients to use them within your emails.
How Your Practice Can Stay on the Right Side of HIPAA
Staying on the right side of HIPAA requires vigilance, but solid opt-in policies, broad segmentation, and attentiveness to data will help you stay on the right side of compliance.
Follow these tips to ensure you use HIPAA-compliant email marketing:
Don’t Share PHI in Ads
Any email you send to a patient, whether an ad or general communication, should be secured through encryption. While your office may enjoy sending birthday emails to patients, in healthcare, you could run afoul of HIPAA guidelines because birthdate information is protected.
Get Permission to Use Patient Emails
As mentioned before, your healthcare organization needs patient authorization to send email marketing communications. This is easily accomplished by signing an opt-in form or automating the entire process with a HIPAA-compliant email marketing platform.
Remember: Not All Email Marketing Platforms are HIPAA-Compliant
When paying for an email marketing service, please don’t assume it automatically provides the level of security required by HIPAA guidelines. Instead, always research and verify that any platform you use to conduct email campaigns has the necessary security measures to protect your patients’ sensitive information.
Use a HIPAA Compliant Marketing Tool Like Adit
One of the best things about digital marketing is the extensive range of automated tools and applications available to help your office be HIPAA compliant. For example, Premier advertising agencies like Adit provide comprehensive practice management software that easily integrates with your current platform.
Imagine streamlining your entire advertising process and workflows with a single, centralized email campaign process that leverages powerful automation and state-of-the-art analytical tools.
Only Share Authorized Testimonials
Whether you want to feature patient stories and testimonials or share a recent case study in an email campaign, you must always comply with HIPAA. Anything that could give away a patient’s identity must be left out of these communications.
Further, even if you leave out PHI in your emails, you still need to have a patient’s permission to share their testimonials.
Create HIPAA Compliant Email Marketing Strategies with Adit
At Adit, our team understands how crucial it is to protect patient PHI while growing your business through HIPAA-compliant email marketing strategies at the same time.