Mastering the New Landscape: Hands-On Strategies for Data Privacy in Healthcare Marketing
In the ever-evolving world of healthcare marketing, professionals perpetually face the challenge of delivering more impact with less budget. Now, they face a new challenge: navigating the intricate maze of patient data privacy without sacrificing data-driven marketing strategies. And even though the foundational principles of HIPAA are well-established in the healthcare sector, recent interpretations of the law have added new twists and turns to that maze.
In December 2022, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) unveiled fresh guidelines on interpreting HIPAA regulations. Then, in July 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and OCR joined forces to release a letter that offers both clearer insights and stricter guidelines on potential litigation scenarios. So, what are the most vital takeaways?
- The combination of an IP address with a visit to a healthcare website now qualifies as Protected Health Information (PHI). This applies to past, present, and - most notably - potential future patients.
- The collaborative letter from the FTC and OCR highlights a crucial aspect: even with explicit consent, it's believed that patients may not fully comprehend or willingly consent if the disclosure is embedded within privacy policies.
The time to step up and lead the charge is now.
It's imperative that healthcare marketers join forces with legal and IT peers. Forming this collective allows marketers to navigate the delicate balance between data-driven marketing initiatives and strict patient privacy safeguards. After you’ve assembled your team, three steps should follow:
1. Conduct a comprehensive audit.
Many healthcare organizations are unaware of which tracking mechanisms or tools are active on their websites. With various contributors embedding code, routine audits are essential. This not only addresses compliance concerns but also streamlines site performance, giving a boost to SEO. Tools like BuiltWith.comare a great jumping-off point for discovering data trackers implemented on your website. Once you get these data points, analyze and understand which of these partners you have a business associate agreement (BAA) with and what data can be shared with each of the platforms.
2. Forge strong alliances.
In the frequently shifting healthcare landscape, marketers must interact with a broad spectrum of internal stakeholders - meaning a proactive alliance with legal and IT is crucial. Together, they can make decisions about data privacy and security without compromising on achieving impactful marketing outcomes. Plus, a reliable ally can guide you through both today’s complexities and tomorrow’s emerging challenges.
3. Lock down access and implement governance.
After completing your audit, evaluate who has access to your website and develop a governance process for adding any new tracking to it. In our experience, establishing a multi-tiered admin structure alongside regular meetings - where IT, legal, and marketing review any requests to add tracking - is the best way to foster sustainable governance.
Get ready to conquer the new landscape.
Although the conversations in healthcare data privacy currently revolve around GA4 and meta-pixel, there's a growing interest in understanding the implications of elements like embedded video players, Google fonts, and translation tools.
The new age of healthcare marketing data privacy is uncharted but full of potential. And as healthcare leaders, the responsibility is on us to guide our organizations into the future with foresight, collaboration, and resilience. So, are you ready to step into a new day in data privacy?