Skip to the main content.
Talk to sales Start for free
Talk to sales Start for free

2 min read

Best practices for HIPAA compliant email marketing

Best practices for HIPAA compliant email marketing

Healthcare email marketing strives to engage patients and promote services, requiring explicit written authorization for HIPAA compliance. Best practices include using compliant platforms with encryption, access controls, and audit trails, crafting messages with general health information, and offering a clear unsubscribe option. Adhering to anti-spam regulations, responsible audience segmentation, and ongoing staff education further ensure effective communication while safeguarding patient privacy.


HIPAA and email marketing

HIPAA defines marketing as "any communication encouraging individuals to purchase or use a product or service, including emails about healthcare offerings." Achieving HIPAA compliant email marketing strategies involves finding the right balance between effective marketing and protecting patient privacy. Email marketing has a high return on investment, and as of December 2023, around 52% of marketing professionals reported a two-time improvement rate in their email marketing campaigns' return on investment (ROI) rates. This makes email marketing a preferred method for patient engagement. However, healthcare professionals must ensure that their emails while promoting services, adhere to HIPAA's strict privacy standards. 


Obtaining authorization for email marketing

When it comes to email marketing in healthcare, the primary rule is obtaining explicit, clear, and documented written authorization from patients. This complies with HIPAA regulations and fosters transparency and trust in the patient-provider relationship. Using explicit opt-in processes ensures that patients are fully informed about the information they will receive and have willingly given their consent. Avoid pre-checked consent boxes to uphold the integrity of patient consent. 

Related: The elements of patient consent for email marketing


Choosing a HIPAA compliant email marketing platform

Healthcare professionals should opt for platforms specifically designed for the healthcare industry, like Paubox Marketing, as they offer features like encryption, access controls, audit trails, and a business associate agreement (BAA). The BAA is a legal commitment that binds the platform to adhere to stringent data security obligations, ensuring alignment with HIPAA regulations. 


Crafting HIPAA compliant email messages

To align with HIPAA regulations, healthcare professionals are generally advised to prioritize general healthcare information over specific patient details to minimize the risk of disclosing protected health information (PHI). However, with Paubox, you can securely include PHI and specific patient details in emails. Paubox provides encryption and security measures to safeguard sensitive information.

Additionally, include a clear and easy unsubscribe option in every email, as both a best practice and a requirement under anti-spam regulations such as the CAN-SPAM Act. This ensures the integrity of communication channels and prevents emails from being flagged as spam.

Related: Integrating CAN-SPAM and HIPAA into email marketing


Segmenting the audience responsibly

Categorizing the audience based on broad demographics enables targeted content delivery without violating HIPAA guidelines. Healthcare organizations can effectively engage patients while staying within regulatory bounds by focusing on general health themes and avoiding personalized details. A recent study on effective email marketing found that segmented emails drive 30% more opens and 50% more clickthroughs than unsegmented ones. This thoughtful approach to audience segmentation ensures impactful communication that respects patient privacy, aligning seamlessly with HIPAA requirements for healthcare email marketing. 

Read more: Email marketing segmentation strategies in healthcare


Staff education and training

Ongoing education and training for staff involved in email marketing keep teams informed about evolving HIPAA regulations, organizational policies, and the importance of maintaining patient privacy. This continuous education reduces the risk of inadvertent violations and promotes a culture of responsibility and unwavering commitment to compliance among staff. 



Can we use regular email platforms for healthcare marketing?

Standard email platforms are not suitable for healthcare marketing due to the sensitive nature of patient information. Healthcare organizations should opt for platforms designed for the industry, ensuring features like encryption, access controls, and a BAA to maintain HIPAA compliance.


Is it mandatory to provide an unsubscribe option in every healthcare marketing email?

Yes, including a clear and easy unsubscribe option in every healthcare marketing email is a requirement under anti-spam regulations like the CAN-SPAM Act. Ensuring patients can opt out is significant for respecting their preferences and maintaining compliance.


Are there specific guidelines for using images or graphics in healthcare marketing emails?

When using images or graphics in healthcare marketing emails, avoid including identifiable patient information. Opt for generic or stock visuals to ensure compliance with HIPAA regulations, and always prioritize patient privacy by steering clear of images that could potentially reveal PHI.

Subscribe to Paubox Weekly

Every Friday we'll bring you the most important news from Paubox. Our aim is to make you smarter, faster.