Ethical Data Use in Healthcare Marketing

Practicing ethical data use in healthcare marketing is nothing new. HIPAA laws have made healthcare professionals consider data privacy for decades. Whether they’re integrating medical records, patient portals, websites or CRMs, it’s always been important for those in the healthcare industry to ensure they are compliant with federal and state laws. The next step healthcare marketing leaders need to take, however, is implementing ethical data use into their marketing practice.

There are a few simple steps which your hospital or private practice can take to make ethical data collection a reality.

1. Educate everyone in the healthcare system on data privacy.

This is an area where healthcare marketers have a head start on other industries. At the very least, there is a foundation for understanding ethical data use in hospitals, healthcare systems or specialty clinics. Yet, your entire healthcare marketing team, alongside your system’s doctors and administrators, should be well-versed in the language and policies of data privacy. Transparency and permission should be key phrases around the office.

2. Implement a data minimization strategy.

The quality of the data you collect is much more important than the quantity. All too often, medical practices gather too much data in their marketing program. Data is meant for delivering results, not filling up spreadsheets. It’s probably time that your marketing team takes a look at the first-party data you own. Is it all relevant? Or is it time for you to let go of some of it? Let’s commit to stopping data hoarding and only collecting data which will deliver quality experiences to potential patients.

3. Anticipate and avoid inequitable outcomes.

Healthcare providers know all too well the harm that can come from unchecked bias. Data collection imbalances can create bias and lead to decisions that cause harm to patients and to your marketing plan. As a data practitioner, you should anticipate these imbalances and examine them for any harmful bias they may expose across gender, race, age and other demographic categories.

4. Educate your patients on data privacy.

As you already know, patient privacy is of the utmost importance for hospitals, healthcare systems and private physician practices. To instill confidence in your patients, educate them on your data privacy practices. Alongside the standard HIPAA protections, your patients should know what additional steps your healthcare organization takes to preserve their privacy.

You should also educate your patients on the benefits of data exchange. Ultimately, the purpose of the data you collect is to ensure patients receive the care that they need. This needs to be clearly communicated to encourage patient confidence in your practice.

Build a Better Future in Healthcare Marketing

Prioritizing ethical data privacy practices will give your healthcare brand a competitive advantage. Not only will it create patient confidence in your brand, but it will also help you to better use your available data. Together, we can build a better future in healthcare marketing.

Lannie Byrd is COO of MHP/Team SI. Lannie led a hospital marketing team for five years. He currently leads a team at MHP/Team SI with a combined eight decades of provider-side experience in healthcare marketing. Learn more about MHP/Team SI’s data-driven, TraDigital™ approach to healthcare marketing.


Lannie Byrd