Privacy-First Foundation for High-Performance Healthcare Marketing

June 10, 2024

Privacy regulations make healthcare marketing harder. A healthcare privacy platform adds a layer of protection, giving digital marketers access to the analytics tools they need without putting protected health information at risk.

// By Ray Mina //

Ray MinaEditor’s Note: This article was updated on July 1 to reflect a recent court decision related to HHS guidance regarding tracking technologies.

Going to Google, Facebook, or YouTube to access information today is second nature for millions of people. And while those platforms are undeniably convenient, they’re also undeniably risky — especially when you add private health information to the mix.

In a perfect world, healthcare organizations could connect with potential patients in ways that automatically guarantee their privacy. But the reality is that consumers use platforms that put their personal health information at risk to research symptoms, locate providers, and book appointments. Healthcare marketers must be on those platforms to thrive but doing so requires making privacy the foundation of your marketing strategy.

In December 2022, HHS made it clear that tracking technologies such as Google Analytics can put healthcare organizations at risk of violating HIPAA. Specifically, they concluded that the combination of HIPAA identifiers and data that infers health information (like visiting a hospital’s website) constituted Protected Health Information (PHI) — and sharing PHI with a non-HIPAA-compliant tool was a privacy violation.

Recently, however, a federal judge vacated a small portion of the HHS guidance around the combination of users’ IP addresses and health information. But he didn’t address the combination of other HIPAA identifiers with health information captured by tracking technologies.

The healthcare privacy puzzle is evolving, but the importance of consumer privacy in healthcare remains the same. In addition to HHS guidance, healthcare organizations may be accountable to FTC enforcement, state privacy laws, class action lawsuits, and consumer expectations.

So how can you safely handle sensitive data without compromising patients’ privacy? In this article, we talk about the challenges of navigating consumer privacy and share some options that will allow you to safely use tracking technologies without triggering a HIPAA violation.

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