How HIPAA Can Affect Your Digital Marketing

As a medical provider, it's important that you market your business online, but you have to make sure you're HIPAA compliant! Our blog covers everything you should know.

How HIPAA Can Affect Your Digital Marketing

Managing a digital marketing campaign for healthcare can be complicated.

As the importance of online marketing continues to grow in the medical industry, health care providers and marketers must ensure that their digital campaigns are competitive, relevant and most importantly, in compliance with HIPAA guidelines.

To help you get started, let's break down HIPAA compliance first.

As a friendly reminder, please contact your own legal counsel for all legal compliance matters.

What Is HIPAA Compliance?

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a legal term that covers patient data protection.

If your medical practice is in contact with protected health information (PHI), you must have security measures in place to protect physical data storage, networks and online processes.

Following these guidelines is important as the health care world becomes more digitized, making it easier for hackers to access sensitive medical information.

Next, we will walk you through a few strategies to help you manage your digital marketing efforts while following HIPAA compliance.

HIPAA Compliant Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising

As one of the most popular forms of advertising, Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising helps you reach patients who are interested in your service or products.

And, just as the name indicates, you are paying only for this form of advertising when the ad is clicked by someone in your targeted audience.

If you are thinking that a paid advertising campaign sounds easy to launch, you may want to think again.

Depending on your industry, you may run into ads being rejected due to images, content or the topic. It can often take multiple tries for your ads to be accepted.

On top of that, you don’t even want to try to set up retargeting — also known as remarketing.

Google errs on the side of caution, so even if serving an ad from your medical practice to an unknown third party may not directly violate HIPAA, it will violate Google’s terms of services.

Google’s Health content includes:

  • Physical or mental health conditions, including diseases, chronic conditions and sexual health
  • Health condition-related services or procedures
  • Products for treating or managing health conditions, including over-the-counter medications for health conditions and medical devices
  • Long or short-term health issues associated with intimate body parts or functions, including genital, bowel or urinary functions
  • Invasive medical procedures, including cosmetic surgery
  • Disabilities, even when content is oriented toward the user’s primary caretaker

HIPAA Compliant Review Marketing  

We know that review marketing is a powerful way to show potential patients that your medical practice is the best choice for their needs.

Replying to reviews left by patients is vital for your review marketing strategy, but don’t forget about compliance.

You can be at risk of violating HIPAA if you are revealing any protected health information. We recommend writing your review responses in generalities and do not share any details about their appointment.

Also, do not share the reviews on any additional platforms.  

HIPAA Compliant Social Media

Social media is a great way to communicate your brand’s voice while reaching potential and current patients. However, this is also one of the easiest formats to have a slip-up and break compliance if your strategy is not well thought out.

We recommend creating a social media strategy for your practice and designate roles to employees while letting them know what is allowed to post, and what is not allowed.

You and your staff should be careful to never include any identifiers in posts, such as:

  • Name of patient
  • Address of patient
  • Dates of patient visits
  • Contact numbers
  • E-mail addresses
  • Social security numbers
  • Medical record numbers
  • Health plan beneficiary numbers
  • Finger and voice prints
  • Other unique identifying numbers, characteristics or codes

We also recommend keeping your personal and professional profiles separate, even if you are an individual provider. This will ensure that everything that you post is appropriate for your patients, as well as a future patient who is deciding to choose you.

Final Thoughts

Having an online presence matters. It’s a good guarantee that your competitors are doing their best to stay relevant online, so now it’s time for you to maintain a compliant online strategy.

If you don’t have the time or the resources, choose a digital marketing agency that you can trust.

Here at RevLocal, we have a dedicated team of medical marketing experts who can provide you with a competitive digital marketing campaign that will keep your practice compliant!

To get started, request a demo from a local consultant in your area. For medical marketing tips, be sure to check out these resources:

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