Are You Hiding Behind HIPAA? Medical Marketing Tips to Grow Your Practice
Don’t let strict HIPAA regulations prevent you from marketing your medical practice effectively
With the massive growth of online marketing and local search over the past few years, medical offices have had to adapt in a variety of different ways to bring in new patients. Social media has gained in popularity and marketing channels have morphed from mostly offline to almost completely online. While this has allowed businesses of all types and sizes to have their message heard and seen, it’s made it a bit more difficult for healthcare providers to navigate the complex HIPAA regulations and how they relate to online marketing.
Responsible healthcare marketing is vital to the growth of your practice
While some practices have merely avoided online marketing all together due to HIPAA regulations, the reality is that if you don’t have a digital footprint in today’s digitally driven marketplace, you don’t exist. Medical practices who are cognizant of the importance of a strong online presence, both in terms of their website and social media channels as well, are much more likely to succeed than those that aren’t leveraging the power of the internet. Efficient medical marketing is still possible even while staying within all necessary HIPAA regulations.
A Pew Research study showed that roughly 80% of American internet users have searched online for a health related topic, which points to the importance of medical offices having a prominent online presence.
While it’s obvious that marketing your medical practice is important, how can you do it in such a way as to still be in complete adherence of all HIPAA regulations?
Avoid sharing any type of personal information about your patients
As more data is available to the masses, this same data has become much more vulnerable to data breaches, leaks, and other instances where patient data is misused. Because of this, there are strict HIPAA rules about sharing any type of confidential patient information. For this reason, medical offices must avoid using any protected health information (PHI) for marketing purposes.
It’s always best to simply avoid using any type of patient information. While you may want to paint the most amazing story about how your practice has helped a certain patient, sharing any part of this information can be deemed as a HIPAA violation, even if it was completely unintended.
Avoid using actual patient images in your marketing materials
To avoid facing heavy fines related to HIPAA compliance, medical practices should avoid using patient images for their website, brochures, or any other marketing materials. While it’s always tempting to use real patient images, it’s best to hire actors or use stock photos to avoid any privacy issues.
Avoid setting unrealistic expectations
In the marketing world, we love to sprinkle phrases with terms like “top,” “best,” or “world class,” but these ambitious claims should be avoided in any medical copy. You can’t guarantee results or a cure before you’ve even met a patient. Avoid these overly ambitious claims to ensure HIPAA compliance.
Don’t be afraid to market your practice
While HIPAA compliance is complex, it should not prevent you from marketing your practice. The reality is that online marketing is here to stay and organizations, regardless of industry, must stay current with the latest trends to ensure that they remain relevant and successful. With the advances in cloud computing, many industries face stiff regulatory regulations, including medical practices, but that shouldn’t stop them from marketing their products and services to their ideal customers or clients. The key is promoting your practice ethically and in such a way that will allow you to grow, while still staying in compliance with the myriad of different HIPAA regulations.
Ready to take your medical marketing to the next level?
If you’re still a bit unsure as to how to approach marketing your medical practice, reach out to our team today. We’ve helped a number of medical offices grow their practices while still keeping an eye on the evolving HIPAA regulations. Contact us to speak with one of our inbound marketing experts.
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