HIPAA and Healthcare Marketing | What is HIPAA Compliant Marketing

When navigating restrictions in healthcare marketing, it can be difficult to find the answers to what you’re looking for. This is because marketing can be HIPAA compliant, but it can also not be. It all comes down to how you are using marketing, what tools you use, and if you have consent from the patient. In an effort to clear up the confusion surrounding HIPAA compliant marketing, HIPAA marketing guidelines and HIPAA marketing FAQs are provided below. 

HIPAA Marketing Guidelines

HIPAA marketing rules differ based on what type of marketing you are doing. If you are targeting your audience based on basic demographics such as age, gender, or location, this type of marketing does not fall under HIPAA’s jurisdiction.

Healthcare Marketing

However, once you start using direct marketing to target patients through remarketing, or if you’re using actual patient data to filter through marketing software, you need to comply with HIPAA, and make sure the tools you use are also HIPAA compliant.

HIPAA Marketing Policy

Developing a HIPAA marketing policy is an important part of ensuring that your communications are HIPAA compliant. Your HIPAA marketing policy should include procedures for receiving patient authorization for marketing communications, what to do if you’d like to use patient testimonials or reviews for marketing, and opt out procedures.

HIPAA Marketing Opt Out

Part of HIPAA compliant marketing is giving patients the ability to easily opt out of marketing communications. All of your marketing communications should include a way to easily unsubscribe from them. This may include an unsubscribe link in marketing emails, or the option to text STOP to opt out of text message marketing.

HIPAA Marketing Restrictions

The Privacy Rule defines “marketing” as making “a communication about a product or service that encourages recipients of the communication to purchase or use the product or service.” Generally, if the communication is “marketing,” then the communication can occur only if the covered entity first obtains an individual’s “authorization.”

The HIPAA Privacy Rule dictates certain HIPAA marketing restrictions, “The HIPAA Privacy Rule gives individuals important controls over whether and how their protected health information is used and disclosed for marketing purposes. With limited exceptions, the Rule requires an individual’s written authorization before a use or disclosure of his or her protected health information can be made for marketing. So as not to interfere with core health care functions, the Rule distinguishes marketing communications from those communications about goods and services that are essential for quality healthcare.”

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Using PHI for Marketing

So how can you market to existing patients, and how can you use patient information for your marketing efforts? Well, there are a couple of ways to do this.

HIPAA Marketing Authorization Form

HIPAA requires healthcare organizations to have signed authorization forms from patients when their protected health information (PHI) will be used for marketing purposes. If the marketing communication involves direct or indirect remuneration to the covered entity from a third party, the authorization must state that such remuneration is involved.

There are certain instances in which a HIPAA marketing authorization form is not required. This includes when communication occurs face to face between the covered entity and the individual; or when the communication involves a promotional gift of nominal value.

Using Look-a-Like Audiences 

Another way that you can market to patients is by using a look-a-like audience. However, this requires you to use a HIPAA compliant marketing tool to do so. Many popular tools such as Facebook Ads and Hubspot are not HIPAA compliant, so patient data cannot be input into these platforms. This ca