Skip to content
All Blogs

HIPAA and digital data collection: You've been warned!

Author: Laura Ballam


ATTENTION HEALTHCARE MARKETERS! It’s time to have a serious chat about HIPAA rules and MarTech. In US healthcare, HIPAA is practically a household name – the body that sets the standards for protecting sensitive patient health information. Most people think of it as the forms you fill out at the doctor’s office and the assurance that your medical information will be well taken care of. But there’s another side of HIPAA that’s been getting a lot of attention lately – violations in healthcare marketing. And we all know that failure to comply with HIPAA can result in hefty penalties and even legal action. Recently, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has been sending out warning letters to entities that have potentially violated HIPAA rules. On July 20, the FTC and HHS issued letters to 130 healthcare companies. How have these organizations violated HIPAA? By using standard MarTech tools like Google Analytics and Meta Pixel. The technical term? Impermissible disclosure. Yikes! Let's dig into this and discuss how you can avoid violating HIPAA rules while still leveraging MarTech to its fullest potential.

First, let's clarify what exactly we mean by MarTech. MarTech refers to any digital marketing tools, software, and platforms used to implement and improve marketing strategies. Examples of MarTech include Google Analytics, Meta Pixel, marketing automation tools like HubSpot and Marketo, and more. These tools help marketers track user behavior, analyze data, and personalize marketing efforts to increase conversion rates and improve customer engagement. They’re great, right?

Well, not so fast. While these tools are incredibly useful, they also pose a significant risk of violating HIPAA rules. The main issue arises when MarTech platforms collect Personal Identifiable Information (PII) without reliable mechanisms in place to ensure HIPAA compliance. This can lead to impermissible disclosure and unauthorized access to protected health information (PHI), which puts healthcare providers and marketers in violation, risking legal action, huge monetary fines, lost business, and damage to reputation and consumer trust.

To avoid violating HIPAA rules, healthcare marketers must use a true first-party data capture platform – i.e., a MarTech tool that’s specifically designed for HIPAA compliance and includes secure data collection and storage protocols. A true first-party data capture platform is built with the necessary controls to ensure the privacy and security of patient information. This empowers healthcare providers and marketers to capture data in a way that maintains HIPAA compliance, and retains complete ownership and control of the data collected.

Using a true first-party data capture platform, instead of lax MarTech tools like Google Analytics and Meta pixel, ensures healthcare providers remain compliant with HIPAA rules and regulations while still enabling powerful marketing capabilities. Healthcare marketers can collect and analyze data in a way that respects patient privacy and security, while reducing the risk of impermissible disclosure that leads to hefty fines, loss of reputation, and legal action.

Healthcare organizations must also ensure they’re using strong encryption methods for data transfer and proper authorization processes to maintain HIPAA compliance. Finally, you MUST have valid Business Associate Agreements (BAAs) with any external vendors, and that’s something Google simply won’t do.

The danger of HIPAA violations when using MarTech tools is real, and the consequences are severe. Make no mistake, the risk of enforcement is increasing and regulators like the FTC are getting more proactive in imposing penalties and fines. If you haven’t already reviewed your compliance and taken corrective action as needed, you’re running out of time. By leveraging a true first-party data capture platform that’s built with HIPAA compliance in mind, healthcare providers can avoid violating HIPAA rules and still use MarTech tools to maximize their marketing capabilities.

Remember, compliance with HIPAA rules isn’t only important for avoiding costly fines and legal action but also for maintaining the trust and respect of patients. So, take a deep breath, assess your current MarTech tools, and get compliant. It's always better to be safe than sorry!



Celebrus is the only solution for HIPAA-compliant marketing.

  • True first-party so you own and control the data
  • Safe and secure for transferring PHI
  • Assured compliance and no-stress BAAs

Subscribe to our blog for regular updates!