The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a must for the healthcare sector. One of its most prominent sections, the Privacy and Security Rules, dictates how healthcare providers should handle an individual’s protected health information—whether online, on paper, or in person.
Because information may inadvertently be used in health care digital marketing, it can lead to patient exposure and harm. And when an individual or a facility commits a breach, it could lead to costly lawsuits and fees.
Learn how to prevent potential risks by remaining HIPAA-compliant in your digital marketing campaign.
1. Ensure That All Staff Are HIPAA-Compliant
Persons in the office such as those who keep your social media account active, respond to queries, as well as those involved in digital marketing should get HIPAA certification. This enables them to be more conscious in handling sensitive information and to be compliant with the law at all times.
Consider assigning specific persons to perform these activities so you’ll know how to address issues in case something happens. This group should have clear assignments such as posting updates, creating memes, responding to positive and negative reviews, answering patient inquiries and concerns, and getting leads from various sources. Having a response template for specific concerns and situations can also help ensure your staff remain compliant.
2. Audit Your Website Compliance
Instead of focusing on content marketing, you can start by checking how your website fares in both the Privacy and Security Rules. The former lays the groundwork for protecting personal health information that covers healthcare providers and other businesses that keep health data. Security Rules of the HIPAA covers electronic personal health records obtained through technical, physical, and administrative means.
If your website or application is involved in gathering personal data such as a patient’s name, age, symptoms, medications, prescriptions, and treatment, you must abide by the HIPAA rules and standards. These types of information are typically submitted using online patient forms, in-patient portals, and live chats.
3. Have A Clear Policy On Digital Transactions
Patients have the right to decide how their information is going to be shared and used by parties covered by HIPAA law. All entities then must respect patients’ privacy and the latter’s preferences as to how the information is shared and handled.
Digital marketing works in the same way. Companies should never mention any of their patients’ information and transactions. As a proactive approach, you can create disclaimers on your website, informing patients of the risks involved in online communications and what your internal digital policies are.
Be ready to respond to users’ concerns over the security of online interactions and other queries. Before you can rely on your staff to practice HIPAA compliance, brush up their skills on the law and establish an internal code of conduct for all employees.
4. Create Guidelines On HIPAA Compliance
Patient confidentiality is paramount in every digital marketing campaign. Below are some additional reminders on becoming mindful before embarking on your digital marketing strategies:
- Email Marketing
One of the more common and relatively inexpensive online digital strategies is email marketing. As a marketer, you should never craft any campaign using a patient’s information without their consent. If you’re using a third-party marketing company, make sure you have a business associate agreement signed to help them become aware of their responsibilities.
- Social Media
A good rule of thumb in social media posting is if you don’t feel comfortable in saying something to a group you’re not close to, don’t post it. Never post photos where patient data may be accidentally exposed.
Any type of information that’s gathered on your website must remain secure. After performing a site audit for both performance and security, make the necessary adjustments and have the data encrypted.
5. Focus On Network Security
To ensure that patient data and online marketing transactions remain confidential, encrypt electronic exchanges containing protected health information. The data can be anywhere from a patient’s name, birthday, prescriptions, contact numbers, treatment plan, and the like.
An end-to-end encryption means the information can only be read and accessed by the sender and receiver. At the same time, any type of server used to store information must be securely backed up.
Electronic communication has helped enhance patient care as patients feel more confident to talk to their doctors and receive care more consistently. At the same time, the reliance on digital technologies has intensified the need for the strict enforcement of marketing rules that comply with the HIPAA law.
Adherence to the said law requires both hardware and software to function. These online connections understandably require a better-performing IT infrastructure and a group of individuals that are conscious of the law.