2 Tips to Navigate TMI Healthcare Marketing
Patients in the ER are getting mobile ads from law firms that notice when the consumers are there and cancer patients are receiving marketing about pharmaceuticals that can target their specific genetic codes. How much data is too much, creating TMI healthcare marketing? Here are two tips to help healthcare marketers navigate that regulatory minefield.
Cancer Patients Can Get Targeted Marketing, But Be Careful
As a June 1 article in Nature points out, new pharmaceuticals may be able to pinpoint, for instance, a tumor’s genetic anomalies and target them for pinpoint treatment — minimizing side effects.
So first comes the challenge of targeting those patients without violating their privacy, per healthcare marketing requirements.
One cancer hospital raised money from its cancer patients who were in remission by having other former patients tell their stories. As a result, the email and direct mail wasn’t violating privacy laws when appealing to the consumers for donations, reads a 2014 cover story in Target Marketing about City of Hope.
The healthcare marketer’s Arlington, Va.–based multichannel marketing agency, Chapman Cubine Adams + Hussey (CCAH), revealed a bit more creative strategy via CCAH EVP Lon-Given Chapman.
"There were certain artful ways of phrasing to allude to a common experience," Chapman says, "in the second-person plural, 'we' language, starting with the patient standpoint, from the signer, and then talking about how 'we,' speaking for patients — though never specifically stating that the recipient was a patient."
But in the case of the genetic anomaly healthcare marketing messages, being discussed in-depth this week at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago, the Nature article emphasizes:
“Enthusiasm for the possibilities of precision oncology has led too many involved to present the option with too much optimism. By its very nature, each precision cancer drug is destined to help only a fraction of people. Everyone with cancer wants, understandably, to be in that fraction. Hope is important. But all parties need to be sensitive to how the promise of precision medicine is communicated to patients — and to their physicians.”
ER Geofencing Allows Mobile Ads to Patients
Healthcare marketers considering allowing marketers, such as law firms, to target patients in their facilities may want to consider not only the ethics, but the reputations of their brands before exploring geofencing. Articles in HealthITSecurity and NPR make it clear that ads that pop up on mobile devices of patients within a geofence may be legal for now, other than the Christian pregnancy counseling and adoption agency that the state of Massachusetts stopped from targeting Planned Parenthood patients, but may not be for long.
NPR reports personal injury law firms are targeting emergency room patients, chiropractor customers and pain clinic visitors in the Philadelphia area. Patients from Tennessee to California are also seeing legal ads and other marketing. NPR says the advertisers in these facilities aren't violating the federal HIPAA laws, but the facilities themselves can't target the patients because that would violate the privacy law. However, HealthITSecurity says not so fast: Those geofence-using marketers would be considered business associates of the healthcare facilities and would, therefore, be subject to HIPAA.
NPR says any "sneaky" data collection, such as that gathered by a flashlight app the FTC recently busted, will likely be declared off-limits, too. (Do consumers know, by entering the geofence, when, how and why their data is being collected? That's what the FTC said the app maker didn't disclose to consumers before sending their data on to third parties for ad targeting.)
HealthITSecurity points out the advantage to healthcare marketers in implementing geofencing: It allows healthcare marketers to control what ads stay in or out of the geofence, which can ensure patient sensitivity and preservation of patient privacy.
What do you think, marketers?
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