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New HIPAA guidelines: Is your web tracking in compliance?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) has long been a cornerstone in protecting patient data within the healthcare industry. With the advent of digital marketing and data collection tools like the Meta Pixel and Google Analytics, HIPAA’s guidelines have had to evolve, but many practices are unaware of these changes and the risk they pose to remaining in compliance.

As healthcare practices rely more on their website and digital advertising to acquire new patients, it’s crucial to understand how the new HIPAA updates drastically alter the handling of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) in relation to marketing tracking.

Background on tracking technologies

In the realm of digital healthcare marketing, tracking technologies like Facebook’s tracking pixel and Google Analytics have become indispensable. These tools provide valuable insight into user behavior, website performance, and campaign effectiveness, enabling healthcare providers to tailor their online presence for maximum impact.

However, these technologies also present a unique challenge. They often collect and process Personally Identifiable Information, which, if not handled correctly, can breach patient privacy and violate HIPAA regulations. The use of these technologies must be carefully managed to balance the need for insightful data against the imperative of protecting patient confidentiality.

For example, while much of the data is anonymized, data from patients who complete forms, submit queries via your website or click ads targeting certain geographic areas can be combined to narrow in on a specific person. Our solution will mitigate this risk while still enabling the use of these business-critical analytis and advertising tools.

Overview of the new HIPAA guidelines

The updated HIPAA guidelines provide a framework for how healthcare providers can use digital tracking technologies without compromising patient privacy. These guidelines underscore the necessity of obtaining informed consent, ensuring data security, and limiting the collection of PII only to what is essential.

How to comply with the new HIPAA guidelines

Over the last 2 years, we’ve seen more and more headlines like “Patients Are Suing Across the Country Over Hospital Records Accessed by Facebook” or “Meta Sued for Violating Patient Privacy with Data Tracking Tool” citing big settlement fees, which can be quickly and cost-effectively mitigated in practices take necessary action.

To comply with the new HIPAA rules, healthcare providers must:

  • Conduct through assessments of their digital tools to identify any potential risks in handling PII.
  • Revise data collection methodologies and implement strringent data security measures.
  • Ensure that patient consent processes are robust and transparent.
  • Regularly review and update their privacy policies in line with the latest regulations.

How Fillungo can help: Implementing server-side Google Tag Manager for HIPAA Compliance

Recognizing the challenges posed by the new HIPAA guidelines, our service focuses on implementing server-side Google Tag Manager (GTM) to bring you into compliance while maintaining your digital marketing edge. If terms like “server-side” or “GTM” make you want to run for the hills, don’t worry. We’ll take care of all of that for you.

Enhanced privacy and security:

Server-side GTM processes data on the server, significantly reducing the exposure of PII. This approach aligns with HIPAA’s stringent privacy standards by minimizing the risk of data breaches and unauthorized access to sensitive patient information.

Performance benefits:

Moving tracking operations server-side not only enhances privacy but also improves website performance. This optimization leads to faster load times and a smoother user experience, which is essential for engaging today’s tech-savvy patients.

Data control:

With server-side GTM, you’ll own their own data and gain greater control over what data is collected and how it is shared. This control is critical for complying with HIPAA’s consent and data minimization requirements. 

Our approach:

We begin with a comprehensive audit of your current digital tools and tracking technologies to identify any HIPAA compliance gaps. We then develop a customized plan to transition your tracking operations to a server-side GTM setup. This plan includes technical implementation, staff training, and ongoing support to ensure that your digital marketing efforts remain both effective and compliant.

Our service is not just about compliance; it’s about empowering you to leverage digital marketing tools confidently and responsibly in this new regulatory landscape.

Let’s take action together

Healthcare professionals should review their marketing tools and strategies in light of these new guidelines. Fillungo, by working in partnership with your legal representative, can ensure you remain in compliance without sacrificing your need to promote your services and acquire new patients via online channels. 

Fillungo specializes in helping multi-location medical practices execute and adapt data-driven patient acquisition strategies. Contact us today to ensure you remain in compliance and are not exposed to unnecessary risk.