HIPAA, ADA and Healthcare Digital Marketing (12 Great Tips)
In addition to all the other factors that need attention in website development, healthcare digital marketing entails compliance with legal requirements. The two most critical laws that apply to healthcare business websites are HIPAA and the ADA. Careful compliance ensures that patient data stays secure and that everyone can easily access your website.
Here is a quick review of how these two laws shape healthcare digital marketing:
- Explaining the relationship between HIPAA, ADA, and marketing
- Six tips for falling in line with the HIPAA rules
- Six tips for applying the ADA guidelines
There’s a lot to discuss, so get ready to take notes.
Are you looking for help with marketing your healthcare business? Watch the video below to learn our approach to healthcare marketing and why 150+ healthcare companies have chosen Digital Authority Partners to help them generate more leads and patient appointments.
HIPAA, ADA, and Healthcare Digital Marketing Explained
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is a federal law covering how healthcare institutions and service providers collect and use patient data. Best practices to comply with HIPAA generally involve robust security protocols and using compliant software.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that oversees how easily a person with a disability can use a service. To achieve compliance with the ADA, check out the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) standards for website design and add accessibility features.
Healthcare digital marketing falls apart when you fail to comply with either HIPAA or the ADA–not only because you risk prosecution but also because this is a sign that your website is not functioning safely and effectively.
Without HIPAA, your patients become vulnerable. Without the ADA, some patients might not even have access to your website. Non-compliance can alienate patients in urgent need of your services. This can steadily erode the public trust in your healthcare business as a result.
Following these laws is more than self-preservation; it is giving the best service possible to all.
6 Tips To Adhere to HIPAA Rules
HIPAA is a complex set of rules that dictate what you can and cannot do when marketing in the healthcare industry. It is particularly concerned with storing, managing, and securing all patient or client protected health information (PHI) collected through healthcare services.
Here are six tips to follow to help you stay within the rules and avoid potential mishaps:
1. Start by learning what counts as PHI and knowing when to apply HIPAA rules to your campaign. For instance, any information that can lead to identification of a specific patient falls under PHI. When you know what HIPAA allows you to do, compliance becomes easier.
2. As mentioned, how you treat PHI is a major component of HIPAA. This includes how you use, store, and transmit it for any purpose, so you should have protocols for managing data. Specialized HIPAA-compliant tools are the best choice here. Software is available to protect patient data in every aspect of your business’s online activity, from telehealth appointments to analytics.
3. Patient data is sensitive, so treat it with extreme caution. Apart from using compliant data management software, you should review user levels that can access PHI and put in place additional security measures to prevent breaches and exposure. Make sure all staff in your practice understand what PHI is and how to properly handle it.
4. If you already have a marketing strategy, review it and ensure that it follows HIPAA rules before moving ahead. When in doubt, consult a HIPAA compliance expert. You can also hire an agency to do a thorough review of your website and bring it up-to-date on HIPAA.
5. Laws change over time, including those governing healthcare services and data protection. That means changes to HIPAA are also inevitable. What met compliance in the past might not be enough or applicable in the future. Follow news on HIPAA closely.
6. Protect your systems and databases with strong anti-malware programs. Many leading brands offer ample protection, but that does not mean you should become complacent with your security measures. Have an emergency response in place in case of a breach.
6 Tips To Follow ADA Guidelines
The ADA (specifically Title III, which covers private businesses and their websites) lists many web design features that it considers compliant but not a set of strict specifications that you can use. Luckily, WCAG 2.2 outlines accessibility in explicit detail with a conformance grade system.
Here are six tips you should follow to keep your website within ADA and WCAG guidelines:
1. Keeping your website design simple and clean is a good rule of thumb. Write in short, concise sentences and limit the length of paragraphs to avoid overwhelming readers.
2. The overall structure of your pages can affect how usable they are for some people with disabilities. Organize page elements to make navigation intuitive for all users. Make the most important pages easy to find and place clear markers to indicate where they are.
3. Some people with disabilities struggle with mouse navigation, so you should provide alternatives to keep your website usable. Enable keyboard navigation and voice recognition to allow users with vision, mobility, and hearing issues to browse your pages.
4. Provide alt-text descriptions of photos, as well as transcripts of all video and audio elements. People who rely on screen readers will benefit from these practices, so you can improve UX and SEO at the same time.
5. Be aware of the difficulties color-blind users can face online. Use color blindness-friendly palettes, as well as sufficient contrast and font size, to make sure everyone can distinguish text and visual elements from backgrounds.
6. Stay up to date on changing ADA compliance best practices, as rulings in ADA lawsuits can result in new guidance. Even when the law on the books stays the same, its interpretation will evolve as decisions in court cases accumulate.
Healthcare businesses engaging in digital marketing must follow more and stricter rules compared to other industries because of the need to safeguard patient privacy. In particular, compliance with HIPAA and the ADA are key components to ensuring safety and access for all.
Both follow a complex set of rules that each and every healthcare business must abide by, with no exceptions. Learning the basic requirements of these laws is the first and most critical step to applying all of the necessary and complex changes to your healthcare digital marketing strategy.
Need help applying HIPAA and ADA rules to your healthcare digital marketing? Contact Digital Authority Partners to learn how we can help.
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