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Why personalized healthcare emails are better

Why personalized healthcare emails are better

Rather than restricting marketing, HIPAA lets healthcare organizations use protected health information (PHI) responsibly and effectively. Providers can create more valuable and appealing communication by personalizing messages and improving patient engagement and satisfaction.

See alsoHIPAA compliant email marketing: What you need to know


HIPAA compliant healthcare email marketing

HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, solidifies health standards and combats fraud and abuse related to PHI. Title II of HIPAA sets the policies and procedures for maintaining patient privacy and permits the investigation of uncompliant organizations. The consequences of a HIPAA violation are sometimes costly.

Within Title II, the HIPAA Privacy Rule establishes limits for the use and disclosure of PHI. The rule offers confidentiality to patients while considering the continuous flow of health information. It regulates the availability of patients' PHI; for example, communication considered "marketing" requires written authorization. Additionally, organizations must follow all HIPAA provisions on email security and fortify messages in transit and at rest.

Sending a HIPAA compliant email is integral to proper communication between healthcare professionals and their patients. When done correctly, healthcare email marketing:

  • Keeps an organization in the forefront of patients' minds
  • Actively involves patients and reminds them to consider their health needs
  • Offers an opportunity to share best health practices and advice
  • Disseminates crucial information to patients and other practitioners
  • Presents a direct channel to patients and prospective patients

The goal is to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of PHI while still guaranteeing access and use.



What is healthcare personalization?

Personalized healthcare puts patients at the center of their treatment and care. When done correctly and compliantly, organizations can deliver customizable experiences for individuals during their patient journey. The patient journey refers to the ongoing sequence of events that a patient follows from the point of access through to diagnosis and care.

Understanding the patient journey inspires healthcare professionals to better their relationships with patients. A healthcare program that considers personal variables (e.g., age or income) better addresses patient needs and health outcomes. Covered entities should note, however, that even something as simple as a name is PHI and must be protected.

HIPAA compliant personalization, therefore, allows organizations to create a stronger connection between doctor and patient. In healthcare, patient engagement closes care gaps, keeps patients informed about their treatment, and fosters trust between patients and caregivers.


What does it mean to personalize a healthcare email?

Whether through informative messages, reminders, or notifications, organizations should personalize healthcare emails to reach appropriate audiences. As mentioned earlier, email marketing personalization can be as simple as addressing a recipient by name. It can also mean:

  1. Offering in-person and out-person personalized care
  2. Giving access to medical records and test results
  3. Outlining educational resources and tools, e.g., about a specific diagnosis
  4. Relaying information about upcoming appointments, tests, and treatments
  5. Creating personalized recommendations
  6. Highlighting positive experiences

Missing out on the power of proper email marketing can hurt the growth and success of an organization.


Why personalize a healthcare email?

Overall, personalized email marketing is a powerful tool for those within healthcare. It allows organizations to attract specific patient populations, deliver relevant and timely information, encourage patient happiness, and reduce costs.


Target patients for better outreach

One of the main benefits of personalized email marketing is the ability to target specific patient populations through tools such as segmentation. Relaying focused messages can promote interest in personal health as well as adherence to treatment plans. It can also help providers raise awareness about their business. Finally, targeting can be a simple way to attract new patients while solidifying their current relationships.


Keep patients up-to-date and educated

Another benefit of personalized email marketing is the ability to send patients relevant, timely, and up-to-date information. This may be as simple as emailing reminders, medical records, or even educational material. It may also mean asking a patient questions about their adherence to treatment plans. Overall, using an email to include a patient in their personal journey improves both communication and care.

Learn more: Using email to personalize messaging during the patient journey


Create stronger connections by engaging patients

As another benefit, personalization boosts the likelihood of patients engaging with their providers. In a crowded inbox, a personalized email will increase open rates and foster stronger connections between senders and recipients. By leveraging dynamic email marketing, healthcare providers can ensure that their patients participate in their health recovery.


Reduce overall operating costs

In addition to the above benefits, personalized email marketing helps organizations to enhance their bottom line. By sending targeted and personalized messages, providers reduce the need for expensive print materials and phone calls, saving both time and money in the long run. Eventually, this will also increase revenue due to the retention of old patients and the addition of new ones.


Checklist for sending a HIPAA compliant personalized email

Organizations must maintain patient privacy and comply with HIPAA regulations when using email for marketing. Use this checklist to ensure each personalized email you send remains HIPAA compliant.

  • Use a secure HIPAA compliant platform that will sign a business associate agreement (BAA) and get the BAA signed.
  • Ensure you and the business associate utilize several cybersecurity tools. Employ defensive (i.e., perimeter) and offensive strategies to block breaches. Make sure all correspondence is encrypted.
  • Grow your email list appropriately and ask patients if they want to subscribe before emailing them.
  • Obtain written consent from patients to use and disclose any PHI in a personalized email.
  • Understand who your patients are and what they need from a healthcare email before sending it.
  • Figure out the best way to personalize an email while limiting PHI.
  • Train staff in compliance and security so they can send HIPAA compliant, personal messages.
  • Develop a breach notification plan for possible breaches, and don't forget to inform your patients if a breach occurs.

Email marketing is a powerful tool for those within the healthcare industry. Ultimately, personalized email marketing improves patient satisfaction, reducing patient anxiety and making individuals feel more comfortable with their healthcare experience.

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