Like any other industry with modern marketing needs, healthcare companies have real email needs. Because of HIPAA compliance, they also face real email challenges. If you think emailing prospects and customers while getting great ROI can’t be done while still handling delicate patient information, think again. There are HIPAA compliant email services and tools out there and we’ll explain everything here and show you how to email market while maintaining HIPAA compliance.
What is HIPAA Compliance?
As you may already know, HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. HIPAA basically serves to protect delicate information such as Personal Health Information (PHI) and other sensitive data like Social Security Numbers (SSN).
How does HIPAA Compliant emailing work?
Basically, HIPAA prohibits the use of individuals’ PHI without its signed authorization and once they have authorized it should be always easy for them to opt-out.
If these rules are broken the company can be heavily fined. It won’t matter if it was a marketing automation mistake or an employee mistake; the rules are clear. Even though your company already works with HIPAA compliance services or products, you can still be out of compliance with the actual usage of the tools out there.
Benefits and Downsides
We all know by now the benefits of email marketing; it’s relatively cheap to do, it creates huge exposure and gives you direct contact with the patient. Many healthcare companies are emailing clients regarding HIPAA-compliant portals for their patients and partners to access secure data. Email is also easy to do, allowing you to create a personalized engagement with the customer.
One slight mistake can turn into a huge fine. This is unavoidably the biggest downside of HIPAA Compliance for companies (obviously, a breach of data is a whole separate potential issue for the patient). Potential ‘leaks’ include PHI, address, test results and more. This is why simply using an email tool that is HIPAA compliant is not enough, the employees should be trained on it to avoid these situations.
How do HIPAA compliant email tools work?
HIPAA compliant email services encrypt the email that’s going to be send to the patient and also make sure to delivery it safe. This is a more complicated task than it seems, as the email service cannot discriminate against recipients who may be using an email provider that does not have the same amount of security; you must create the security with end-to-end encryption.
Many of these HIPAA compliant email tools also detect sensitive content that will be encrypted and send a warning about it, avoiding the mistake of sending information by accident.
Closing notes on maintaining HIPAA Compliance
Keep the PHI away from your customers’ mailboxes and never expose segmentation data (i.e. Smoker vs. Non-smoker, Cancer patient vs. Non-cancer patient)
This blog post is to give you an idea around how to work with HIPAA, we’re not the foremost authority on HIPAA Compliance, although we do sell and implement HIPAA compliant software (like Net-Results) for healthcare companies. Feel free to contact tCognition at email@example.com for more information about getting a HIPAA compliant email service to work for you.