New service announcement emails are a great way for healthcare organizations to build stronger patient relationships and stay top-of-mind. However, covered entities must follow HIPAA regulations when delivering these updates.
HIPAA marketing guidelines
The HIPAA Privacy Rule sets specific requirements for the use and disclosure of protected health information (PHI). Typically, covered entities must obtain a patient’s written authorization before their PHI can be used for marketing communication. “Marketing” is defined as messages that promote the use or purchase of a product or service.
New service announcements are classified as a type of marketing, so patients’ consent is required. Under The HIPAA Security Rule, covered entities also need to implement protective measures that help prevent the unauthorized access of PHI. Therefore, new service announcement emails are only HIPAA compliant if patients have given their permission and the appropriate security protocols are in place.
How to send HIPAA compliant new service announcement emails
The first step in sending HIPAA compliant new service announcement emails is to collect patients’ authorization through a clear consent form. Include information on the full scope of emails, how frequently they can expect to receive updates from your practice, and their right to unsubscribe at any time. Make sure to keep a detailed record of patients’ consent.
Any type of personal data that is connected to an individual’s health condition is automatically considered PHI. This means healthcare marketers need to make sure that new service announcement emails don’t include any information that can lead to the identification of individuals, such as treatment preferences or location.
A safer approach is to sign a business associate agreement (BAA) with a HIPAA compliant email marketing provider. Many popular platforms like MailChimp and HubSpot will not sign a BAA, which means there is no guarantee that data stored in their platforms is secure. Other companies will state they sign a BAA, but their terms and conditions note that users are restricted from sending PHI through the platform.
Rather than sending general announcements to all patients, a HIPAA compliant email marketing platform allows healthcare organizations to personalize outreach by promoting new services that directly relate to individuals’ health history, needs, and interests. Delivering highly relevant content at the right time improves patient satisfaction, which ultimately helps grow your business.
New service announcement emails are considered a type of marketing communication. To make these messages HIPAA compliant, covered entities must obtain patients’ explicit consent and implement safeguards to protect PHI.
With a HIPAA compliant email marketing platform in place, healthcare organizations can provide more customized and engaging content without putting patients’ data at risk.