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HIPAA compliant email marketing

HIPAA compliant email marketing

Email marketing is a valuable tool for reaching out to patients and promoting services in the healthcare industry. However, it's important to ensure email marketing practices comply with HIPAA regulations. HIPAA compliant email marketing requires healthcare organizations to consider patient authorization, the use of protected health information (PHI), and the selection of a HIPAA compliant email vendor, like Paubox.


Patient authorization to receive emails

Before sending marketing emails to patients, healthcare organizations must obtain explicit consent to communicate via email. Providers can have patients sign email consent forms as part of the onboarding process. However, for HIPAA compliant email marketing, patients must specifically consent to receiving marketing communications via email. This consent can be included as a clause within the email consent form. Additionally, patients should be able to opt out of marketing emails and unsubscribe if they no longer wish to receive such communications.

Related: How to obtain patient consent for email communication 


Patient authorization to use PHI

While obtaining consent for email marketing, healthcare organizations should also consider the use of protected health information (PHI) in their email communications. If healthcare organizations wish to include patient testimonials or reviews containing PHI in their marketing emails, they need to obtain written consent from the patients. This ensures that patient privacy is protected and PHI is handled per HIPAA regulations.

Read also: Sharing patient information with authorization 


Informing patients of risk

There are instances where healthcare organizations communicate with patients via email for purposes other than marketing, such as when patients request copies of their medical records. In these cases, patients should be made aware that email communication may not be completely secure, and alternative methods of communication should be offered if they prefer a more secure option.


Choosing the right vendor

When it comes to HIPAA compliant email marketing, not all email marketing vendors are created equal. Popular tools like HubSpot and MailChimp, for example, are not HIPAA compliant. Therefore, assessing a vendor's HIPAA compliance is necessary before choosing them for patient emails.



Encryption is a critical component of keeping PHI secure. It ensures that data at rest (stored data) and data in transit (data being sent) are protected from unauthorized access. Email subject lines cannot be encrypted, so PHI should never be included in the subject line of an email.


Business Associate Agreements

Email vendors must be willing and able to sign business associate agreements (BAAs) to be HIPAA compliant. Email providers are considered business associates under HIPAA regulations because they handle, transmit, and store data for healthcare clients. Signing a BAA ensures that the vendor understands their responsibilities in maintaining HIPAA compliance and outlines the necessary security measures they must have in place to protect PHI.

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Paubox’s suggestions

When it comes to HIPAA and healthcare email marketing:

  • Healthcare marketing emails must abide by HIPAA regulations.
  • Patients must authorize marketing email communications.
  • Use Paubox Marketing to send personalized marketing emails including PHI - or better yet, cover your bases and use it for all marketing emails.

See also: HIPAA compliant email marketing: What you need to know



What types of information should not be included in marketing emails under HIPAA?

Marketing emails should not contain any protected health information (PHI) unless patients have provided explicit authorization. This includes information such as medical diagnoses, treatment history, or any other identifiable health information.


Can I use email marketing to promote healthcare services or products while remaining HIPAA compliant?

Yes, you can use email marketing to promote healthcare services or products while remaining HIPAA compliant. However, you must ensure that any emails containing PHI are handled securely and that individuals' privacy rights are protected. This may involve encrypting emails, obtaining consent for marketing communications, and providing clear opt-out options.



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