The Subtle Art of Healthcare Marketing

Pratik Saraf
Thurs 16 Mar 2023
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The healthcare system is witnessing a paradigm shift toward consumerism from decades of sluggish tech adoption. It is following the path of transformation that has taken place in several other industries like finance, travel, and hospitality. Patients in this age of consumerism are looking for the same level of connected and seamless experiences that they have been accustomed to with other industries, both inside and outside of the care settings.

Patients are increasingly looking online for healthcare services, especially when choosing between providers. According to a 2021 survey conducted by Press Ganey , more than half of the consumers surveyed used digital mediums to find and select a new primary care provider. Respondents were more than twice as likely to use digital sources than a doctor’s referral to choose a primary care doctor.

Regulations that Govern Marketing to Patients

Healthcare providers are finding it increasingly difficult to attract and retain patients. This is further aggravated by the privacy protection laws that apply to healthcare marketing, making it difficult to acquire and retain patients. The HIPAA Privacy Rule has stringent regulations around marketing to patients and is governed by the specific definitions of marketing that dictate the type of communication and mediums that are allowed to be marketed to patients.

The rule depends on what information is being communicated as well as what communication method is being used (i.e., email, mail, phone, text message, or in person). By implementing safeguards, covered entities must ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of protected health information (PHI). A HIPAA-compliant patient communication must adhere to these safeguards. To elaborate:

  • Communication is not deemed as “marketing” if it is made to describe a health-related product or service that is provided by, or included in a plan of benefits of the covered entity making the communication. The covered entity can only market its services and cannot directly or indirectly promote third-party services.
  • Communication is not termed “marketing” if it is made for the treatment of the individual
  • Communication is not “marketing” if it is made for case management or care coordination for the individual, or to direct or recommend alternative treatments, therapies, health care providers, or care settings to the individual.

Along with federal laws, each state may have additional regulations to protect the privacy of patients. For example, California’s Confidentiality of Medical Information Act is intended to protect the confidentiality of individually identifiable medical information obtained from a patient by a healthcare provider. This act:

  • Prohibits covered healthcare providers from disclosing medical information regarding a patient, or subscriber without first obtaining authorization
  • Requires covered healthcare providers that create, maintain, store, or destroy medical information to do so in a manner that preserves the confidentiality of such information

There are pitfalls to not being compliant with state and federal laws, failing to adhere to them could lead to fines of up to $2500 per violation. In 2022, the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) charged a provider from a south-eastern state for alleged violations of the HIPAA Privacy Rule. The dental practice was charged a penalty of $62,500 for disclosures of PHI to a third-party marketing company and for using patient communication information for non-health communications, which is impermissible disclosure of PHI under HIPAA.

Marketing in a Value-Based Care Ecosystem

While PHI protection and HIPAA compliance are the key factors a marketer needs to take care of when executing healthcare marketing initiatives, another significant factor that is often missed is the evolution of care delivery from a fee-for-service to a value-based model. This model has shown a lot of promise in reducing costs and helping people get the right care.

To stand out within this model, the corresponding marketing strategy needs to evolve from a volume-based approach to a more value-based approach. What this means is that marketers would need to focus on the quality of interactions the patients have both inside and outside the care settings, including prospective patients that are visiting the website to seek more information about the health system and the services offered.

Marketers need to focus on deploying omnichannel campaigns where the key focus will be on the consumer journey. Patients may click a PPC ad, then read an article in the knowledge base, and then schedule an appointment. All these steps lead to more meaningful engagement with the patient at a personalized level, with information that is of value to them and helps them make an informed choice of why you are the right provider for their healthcare needs.

With the emphasis on health equity in CMS’s new ACO REACH model, marketers will have a key role in compliance with the new model. The new model focuses on advancing health equity, stakeholder feedback, and participant experiences within ACOs. It requires all REACH ACOs to analyze this latest value-based care model from CMS and develop a health equity plan, which must include both the identification of health disparities and a plan designed to mitigate those disparities.

It also introduces a “health equity benchmark adjustment,” which will be used to “better support care delivery and coordination” for patients in underserved areas. With traditional CRM tools, the identification of such cohorts of patients would be a Herculean task for marketers. The availability of unified patient data along with SDoH information and data from consumer sources would be key to identifying such cohorts. ACOs would then be able to target them effectively with marketing campaigns and help reduce the disparity in the care received, thus advancing health equity.

Innovaccer’s Customer Relationship Management Solution Suite

Whether it is marketing, clinical, or population health, a unified 1:1 consumer journey can only be fully realized when data, processes, content, and preferences come together at the right time to deliver the experience consumers expect-one that is comparable to the experience they receive when booking a hotel room, buying a car, or making dinner reservations.

Innovaccer helps unify a person’s health record with the industry’s #1 data platform for value-based care . Innovaccer’s data backbone allows marketing strategists and value-based care teams to build connected and consistent consumer-patient experiences, and then humanize those experiences with enriched 360-degree customer profiles based on longitudinal patient records.

This enables healthcare organizations to transform a person’s overall level of engagement using the industry's first enterprise CRM solution to deliver both consumer and clinically-contextualized messaging through a fully embedded and automated communication engine.

Built on top of the Innovaccer platform, now enhanced with third-party consumer data, Innovaccer’s Healthcare CRM offering helps health systems:

  • Manage consumer engagement data, SDoH, clinical, and financial data—all in a single unified patient profile
  • Personalize engagement strategies by creating micro-segmented consumer and patient cohorts for exceptional patient acquisition and retention
  • Provide data that powers omnichannel communication by using their preferred method: phone, chat, text, or email for superior consumer satisfaction and patient experiences
  • Improve clinical and financial outcomes through a holistic patient experience

With Innovaccer, health systems can effectively market to patients while protecting PHI and complying with HIPAA and other privacy laws. Through these patient journeys, health systems can enable automated outreach and improve the conversion of prospects to patients while maintaining more personalized care coordination outreach with existing patient populations.

Innovaccer’s enterprise CRM helps accelerate achieving 1:1 patient experiences and transform patient engagement with the industry's first CRM solution to deliver clinically contextualized, holistic, value-based care. It helps health systems:

  • Get hyper-personalized engagement with robust segmentation
  • Improve the patient experience with contextual insights from longitudinal patient views
  • Acquire consumers through precision-targeted touchpoints
  • Measure true campaign effectiveness and ROI across a vast array of KPIs

Innovaccer’s internal and customer data shows that healthcare organizations that implemented a healthcare-specific CRM realized:

  • 5% growth through patient acquisition
  • 20% reduction in referral leakage
  • 15% improvement in patient outcomes
  • 30% higher patient satisfaction

To learn more about how Innovaccer’s Enterprise CRM can help you deliver consumer-centric omnichannel personalized healthcare experiences, visit or talk to our experts by contacting us here .


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Tags: Healthcare Marketing
Pratik Saraf

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