How to Make Sure Your Email Marketing is HIPAA Compliant

Email marketing is a good way for doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals to get in touch with their patients. Email is a more personal, direct, and efficient way to talk about problems and offer solutions for health and wellness.

However, extra care is needed, especially when dealing with patients’ personal information. Your email marketing must comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This guide shows you how to make an email marketing campaign that is HIPAA-compliant and will boost your outbound communication.

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Get Patient Authorization to Receive Marketing Emails

A survey from 2022 found that 27% of people who said they subscribed to newsletters were very likely to buy products. However, you cannot just send them newsletters; you need their permission. 

Your patients must sign an email subscription form using their names and email addresses. This information is protected health information (PHI), which means you can’t use it for marketing without permission.

Include the following when securing permission from patients:

  • State email frequency. Inform patients how often they should expect your emails and keep with this schedule. Scheduling is not a one-size-fits all: do a trial and error to find the best frequency that works for your patients and your organization.
  • Use bullet points to highlight important issues. Help patients understand your permission form by highlighting details like how you use their PHI, your contact details, email frequency, etc.
  • State your purpose clearly in your emails. Tell patients about third-party companies handling some aspects of your business. Your patients should know if you use their information to make surveys, research, and creating other content types.
  • Remind patients of their right to complain. Explain that permission is needed before they share PHI and that they can always contact you for any issues about the security and safety of their information.

Ensure Your Email Marketing Emails are Encrypted

Another important way to ensure your emails follow HIPAA is to encrypt them. Encryption makes sure that your email messages are private and safe. This is vital in building trust with your patients.

Healthcare providers often send emails with private information like the age, birthday, address, and health information of their patients. Emails may also contain patient social security numbers, credit card information, and health insurance information. Encryption keeps emails safe from end to end. Here are some tips on email encryption.

  • Use blind carbon copy (BCC).  This ensures that patients who get marketing emails will not see other recipients. You can BCC recipients from your email messaging platform.
  • Take advantage of Office 365 security features. Microsoft 365 business plans provide security features, including anti phishing, antimalware, and antispam. This ensures encrypted emails for your recipients.
  • Consider two-factor authentication (2FA). This standard security measure requires you to provide identifiable information before you can sign in. 2FA makes it harder for hackers to get into your account. You can set 2FA in your account settings.

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Provide a Way for Patients to Unsubscribe

At some point, some patients may want to unsubscribe from your emails or newsletter for some reason. It is important to always include a link for opting out in your emails. Patients use this unsubscribe link to stop getting marketing emails. Of course, let them know that they can always subscribe again. 

To make this option accessible, place the link in every email message. Most marketing emails have an unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email. This link pulls up a new page—a thank-you page. You may choose to ask for their reason for unsubscribing. Their answer will help you figure out how to improve your email marketing plan. By trimming your list, you can focus your efforts on people who are very interested in your offers or services.

Here are some tips for creating a better unsubscribe page and link.

  • Keep your message simple. Something like “We are sorry to let you go” or “You have unsubscribed to our email marketing.”
  • Do not sound like a form. Show your patients that you care about them unsubscribing to your email marketing list. Thank them for their time.
  • Offer other content alternatives. Include some options for contact, like your social media accounts, phone number, or physical address.

Include Your Contact Details in Your Email Communication

Email messaging with your business address, phone number, and website URL instills trust. Your patients recognize your business better and know who has access to their data. Explain that you need their permission before sharing PHI information.

Having your contact details available also helps encourage prospects to consider your services and offers. Your prospects may choose to call you or come to your office instead of reading your emails. So, you need to make sure that your contact information is correct and the same on every platform. Remember to:

  • Make your contact details stand out. You may also add social media icon links to lead your patients to your platforms. Follow these tips.
  • Use email messaging templates. Various free email templates are available online. Templates make it easier to compose an email and add email elements like your contact details, logo, CTA, and message.  
  • Ensure you have updated social media pages.  Your social media pages (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube) must be active, updated, and contain your contact information.
  • Add your logo. With a well-designed logo, people can best recognize your brand and remember your services. Remember, around 45% of people likely open their emails from brands they know and recognize.

HIPAA compliance is critical in email marketing and other ways healthcare providers and organizations use PHI. Digital Authority Partners said that overlooking compliance can lead to severe fines. All healthcare providers, professionals, and groups should comply.

Summing Up

Make sure your email marketing is HIPAA-compliant by getting permission from patients, encrypting messages, giving people a way to opt out, and including the contact information for your hospital, clinic, or organization. All these efforts help you create better and more converting emails for your patients and clients.        

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