Running marketing for a medical facility is exceptionally challenging right now. The imperative is for organizations to be on social media and increase their digital footprint. A good social media presence requires a high level of transparency and personalization; yet at the same time, privacy requirements are as strong as ever.
The Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA) governs healthcare privacy law. Failure to implement HIPAA compliant marketing has serious consequences. The government has a long list of current breaches and they all come back to some kind of digital failure.
There’s no reason for fear to slow down your social media outreach. Your office will simply need to take a few extra steps to ensure HIPAA compliant marketing.
Delegate specific social media responsibilities
It’s easy to think of social media as a place where the only way to use it is by rushing your content out there amidst the flurry of activity. We do live in a world where important political and social matters are debated and even decided by who is fastest on social media. But that won’t work for you.
You need people who are trained in privacy law and know how you want to present yourself. That likely means choosing 2-3 people from your staff who are social media-savvy and have demonstrated good judgment in the past. Train them in what’s required and put them in charge of drafting posts.
Don’t stop there. Require that each post also goes through an editor, who will review it for any possible breaches of privacy. As you’ll see, it’s easier for a medical office to slip up than it is for most businesses.
Give special attention to visual content
Success on social media requires posting photos and videos; these are great ways to humanize and sell your practice. However, subtle threats to patient privacy lurk. Is the photo of you at your desk showing anyone’s file sitting in camera range? Is the video of the office at work revealing the presence of patients who haven’t consented to be shown? Before any content is posted, make sure there’s a review specifically for these kinds of subtle infractions.
Review agreements with third-party vendors
If you have an outside vendor managing your email campaigns and any video streaming, you also have to be certain their connections are secure. At the very least, you can ensure that in the event of a breach, the vendor is first in line for the legal blame rather than you.
Be careful with messages on social media
People will contact you through your office’s Facebook page. While we trust that your staff will know that any information revealed in these private messages is indeed private, it’s easy for a distracted staffer to accidentally reply to someone in a public manner or to reveal private information in a comment underneath a post.
Social media, by its very nature, speeds up the brain and can cause anyone to lose track of what they’re saying and who is listening. Your staff must be trained to counter that natural tendency with caution and care in handling people’s private information.