Solving the HIPAA Conundrum

September 28, 2023

// By Jane Weber Brubaker //


Can healthcare marketers leverage tracking technologies the way they used to without risking noncompliance?

When HHS stepped on the gas last December — issuing ominous warnings about HIPAA, tracking pixels, and PHI — healthcare marketers and legal and compliance teams put the brakes on fast. But some organizations had already been called out for HIPAA breaches related to third-party tracking tools like Meta Pixel and Google Analytics.

Dozens of high-profile lawsuits put noncompliant health systems in the crosshairs, but the fact is that most U.S. health systems are at risk. Authors of a study published by HealthAffairs in April reported, “We found that third-party tracking is present on 98.6 percent of hospital websites, including transfers to large technology companies, social media companies, advertising firms, and data brokers.”

Just when marketers were finally able to improve website experience, monitor campaigns using real-time analytics, and prove ROI, the door to the enabling technologies and high-performing ad platforms slammed shut in their faces.


Ray Mina, head of marketing at Freshpaint

Enter new technology solutions designed to solve the tracking pixel problems. We met up with one of them, Freshpaint, at a sunrise session at SHSMD Connections in Chicago. In spite of the early hour (7 a.m.), the room was packed, with standing room only. Marketers clearly are interested in finding a way to get back to business AND comply with HIPAA’s guidance on PHI.

Ray Mina is head of marketing at Freshpaint. “There’s a whole bunch of technology that you utilize on your website, whether it’s for acquisition, for analytics and measurement, or to improve the customer experience,” he says, “and those tools are powered by trackers — snippets of code that sit on your website — and those snippets of code do some things that have the regulators concerned.”

Here, we recap the issues and potential pitfalls, as well as workarounds that Mina suggests can help marketers take charge again and restart measurable, trackable, and effective marketing, in compliance with HIPAA.

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