How to Build Your Medical Spa’s Marketing Strategy

Posted By Madilyn Moeller, Friday, October 6, 2023

Business planning

By Compliancy Group

Marketing is an important part of any business, but it can be overwhelming to figure out how to market your medical aesthetics business. There are so many different ways you can promote your practice, but what makes the most sense for health care? As a health care practice, you most likely won’t take out a billboard to market your services, but you might advertise on social media. Something else that’s important to consider with health care business marketing strategy is how HIPAA factors in.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) controls what and when patient information may be shared for marketing purposes. With the way that technology has changed since HIPAA was enacted, however, it can be challenging to find information regarding appropriate marketing practices using modern technologies.

HIPAA and marketing

HIPAA has specific rules regarding the use and disclosure of patient protected health information (PHI). As a result, health care business marketing efforts must adhere to HIPAA marketing standards and ensure patient PHI is being used only when a patient specifically authorizes you to use their information for marketing.

Authorization for use and disclosure of PHI is a key component of any effective HIPAA compliance program. Any time PHI is used or disclosed for reasons other than treatment, payment or health care operations, the patient must sign a consent form that outlines how their PHI will be used. Patients also have the right to revoke their authorization at any time.

If you are working with a marketing agency and sharing patient information with them, the patient must give explicit consent for you to do so.

HIPAA marketing fines

There were several HIPAA fines for the improper use or disclosure of PHI in relation to marketing in 2022.

In one instance, a dental practice disclosed its patients’ PHI to a campaign manager and a third-party marketing company hired to help with a state senate election campaign. As a result, the practice was fined $62,500. In another incident, a health care practice disclosed a patient’s information in response to a negative online review; this practice was fined $50,000.

In 2022, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a press release discussing a fine for an improper response to an online review. Office for Civil Rights (OCR) Director, Melanie Fontes Rainer, stated, “This latest enforcement action demonstrates the importance of following the law even when you are using social media. Providers cannot disclose protected health information of their patients when responding to negative online reviews. This is a clear NO. OCR is sending a clear message to regulated entities that they must appropriately safeguard patients’ protected health information. We take complaints about potential HIPAA violations seriously, no matter how large or small the organization.”

How to market your health care business

It’s clear from past marketing fines that most health care businesses are unclear about what HIPAA does and does not permit for marketing. So, how can you market your health care business without facing a fine?

Before you can use patient information for marketing efforts, you need to receive explicit written consent from the patient. The consent form must expressly state the marketing efforts in which their PHI will be used. For example, if you would like to share patient testimonials, photos or videos on your website or social media accounts, the patient must sign a consent form stating that they consent to you using their information in this manner. If, later, you want to use the same patient’s information in a different way, they would need to sign a new consent form.

Marketing ideas for health care businesses

Now that you know the basics of HIPAA and marketing, here is a review of some marketing ideas for health care businesses to attract new patients and retain existing ones.

Build a responsive website: Having a website has become a standard for any business. This is also the case in health care. Building a responsive website will give your health care business legitimacy while allowing prospective patients to research your practice. At a minimum, your website should have a homepage, an “about us” section, contact information and business hours. You can also use your website to display your services, post patient testimonials and allow patients to self-schedule appointments.

Ask for testimonials on website and social media: Using testimonials on your website and social media is a good way to set yourself apart from other providers. Showing a “success case” provides a real-world example of how you have helped a patient overcome a problem, allowing prospective patients to put themselves in their shoes. Just remember, you must obtain explicit consent prior to sharing patient testimonials.

Ask for reviews: Patients have become increasingly dependent on Google when looking for new doctors. Doctors who have no reviews may be a red flag, while doctors with poor reviews are not likely to get inquiries about new patients. It’s a good idea to ask patients for reviews after an appointment. Be careful how you solicit reviews, however; for example, if a patient has not consented to receive email communications, don’t email them asking for reviews. If the patient has consented to receive emails, make sure to follow HIPAA-compliant email rules.

Sharing health tips: Sharing health tips through your website and social media platforms is a good way to engage patients and be seen as a thought leader. Health tips should be general—don’t talk about a specific patient here—such as, “Make sure you’re properly hydrated,” and then provide information on what this means. You can also easily reshare articles on social media and provide your advice on the topic.

Ads and video: If you have a marketing budget, ads and videos are good ways to increase your exposure. When developing these, it is important to keep your target audience in mind and tailor them to your patients. Use language prospective patients will understand and keep things simple. Ads should be set up to target certain demographics based on things such as location, age and gender. However, keep in mind that existing patient information should never be uploaded into ad platforms.

Consumers also increasingly favor video content. Videos can be more engaging than written promotional content and allow potential patients to get the information they are looking for quickly and easily.

Build relationships with other providers: Referrals are highly underrated. Patients often look to their existing treatment providers for recommendations on other types of doctors. For example, a patient may ask their general practitioner for a recommendation on a specialist, such as a dermatologist. Since general practitioners are not qualified to treat most dermatological issues, they will refer this service out. To establish a referral relationship, it is important to network. You should have referral relationships with several doctors—it’s a win-win for both parties.

Community involvement: Community involvement is especially important for doctors practicing in smaller communities, but it can also have an impact in larger cities. Patients and prospective patients value businesses that give back to their communities. Whether you volunteer at a local charity, donate to a good cause or provide free treatment to underserved communities, patients will be more likely to choose your practice over another when you show that you care. Your charitable endeavors should be shared on your website and social media accounts for maximum impact.

Marketing your HIPAA compliance with the seal of compliance

You wouldn’t necessarily think that patients are aware of HIPAA, but it has been a hot topic ever since the pandemic. While patients don’t necessarily understand what HIPAA is and to whom it applies, they know of its existence and the important role it plays in information privacy.

Compliancy Group’s HIPAA Seal of Compliance is awarded to clients that implement a compliance program using its automated software solution. The seal is an excellent health care business marketing tool, as it differentiates your practice while representing your dedication to keeping patient information secure. The HIPAA Seal of Compliance can be displayed on your website, in your email signature and in your office.

“The HIPAA Seal of Compliance on our website has been a great sales tool for us. It’s the perfect differentiator when new customers are deciding between working with us and another software provider,” says Adam Zachs, legal and compliance officer at Vagaro.

Compliancy Group’s software automates HIPAA compliance for medical spas. Achieving compliance can be done quickly through just a few self-paced virtual meetings. New customers will save 15% on Compliancy Group’s software, which includes live coaching to guide you through your compliance requirements, risk assessment that makes the required HIPAA risk assessment a breeze, policies and procedures that fully satisfy HIPAA regulations and protect your business, and intuitive and automated HIPAA training that awards the HIPAA Seal of Compliance upon completion.

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