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Ensuring Patient Privacy in Healthcare Communication

When it comes to mailing confidential material, how can healthcare organizations ensure patient privacy without breaking the bank?

Perhaps more than in any other industry, healthcare companies have to be laser focused on protecting their customers’ privacy. Lapses in security that lead to individuals’ protected health information (PHI) becoming public will not only anger a lot of customers, but they may also constitute HIPAA violations and land the organization in hot water.

Personalized Healthcare Communication

Despite these stakes, healthcare organizations still need to communicate sensitive information — from notifications of physician departures and brochures on new medical procedures to test results, bills, and more — in direct mailings throughout the year.

And that communication has to be personalized—tailored directly to each recipient’s experiences and needs. After all, a significant part of building trust in healthcare is indicating that you know your patients’ history and needs. Recent research from Marketo found that 79 percent of consumers say they are only likely to engage with an offer if it has been personalized to reflect previous interactions they’ve had with the brand. The ability to tailor communication to each recipient is important in building that relationship and encouraging customers to continue patronizing your business.

What’s stopping healthcare businesses from delivering personalized communications?

There are three key factors deterring healthcare companies from creating the personalized marketing interactions customers crave. 

  1. Cost: Printing, packing, and mailing variable information can be a significant financial burden—much moreso than blanket mailers (or no mailers at all). 
  2. Management burden: Keeping track of different materials for different patients (or potential patients), ensuring every piece maintains brand standards and confirming that each customer gets the correct version of the document require enough oversight to head off even the most organized marketing leaders. This burden only increases when a company has multiple locations across the country, and the team at headquarters has to oversee the same process for several local leaders.
  3. Privacy concerns: Without the right systems in place, personalizing mailings increases the chances that patients’ secure information will be compromised due to a printing, mailing, or management error. The risk—in both patient fallout and regulatory sanctions—often feels too big to make personalization worth it.

Short of appointing one person to print, stuff, address, double check and send every piece of mail individually (which would be neither efficient, cost-effective, nor particularly secure, given the human error that tends to creep into such tedious work), how can healthcare companies ensure their mailings won’t put confidential information at risk?

Here’s the good news: healthcare organizations don’t have to handle their sensitive mailings—or any mailings, for that matter—alone. The key is to find the right print marketing execution partner who can take on the management responsibilities of printing and mailing variable materials while both ensuring patient data is protected and keeping costs within the budget.

5 Things Healthcare Companies Should Look for in an Execution Partner for HIPAA Compliant Mailings

There are plenty of print marketing execution vendors out there, but not all of them are equipped to handle private health information. Here are a few things to look for as you begin your search.

  1. Data Management Practices

You’ll want to ensure your vendor has a secure method of encrypting and electronically transmitting data, such as through a secure VPN or FTP. Additionally, find out whether there are any circumstances under which a vendor discloses information in their possession.

  1. Personnel Training

Who will be handling your customers’ sensitive data during the printing and fulfillment process? Look for a vendor with comprehensive HIPAA training for employees and a commitment to vetting every team member who may have access to client data. Nobody who isn’t qualified should be touching sensitive materials.

  1. Quality Control

How does the vendor ensure items are correctly printed, sorted, and mailed? What do those double- and triple-check processes look like? It’s critical that Jane Doe doesn’t receive John Smith’s benefits statement, or visa-versa, so you’ll want to find a vendor with 100 percent match mailing capabilities, which should include a stringent QC process and a track record of accuracy.

  1. Materials Disposal

In cases of overprinting or duplications that leave confidential materials sitting in the warehouse after a mailing is complete, what happens to the waste? Is it simply tossed in the alley recycle bin, or does the vendor have a disposal method that ensures continued privacy until the papers are destroyed?

  1. Cost Efficiencies

All these strict process and procedure requirements don’t necessarily lead to exorbitant costs. Look for a vendor with print-on-demand capabilities that minimize the costs and waste of excess printing, ideally with the capability to localize printing to minimize delivery costs and onsite USPS experts to ensure every mailing meets regulations and is fulfilled at the most cost-effective rates possible.

OneTouchPoint: A Trusted Partner in Healthcare Communications 

At OneTouchPoint, our solutions check each of these boxes, enabling companies to lower costs and provide timely service while maintaining airtight information security. We mail over 155 million mail pieces each year, and hundreds of thousands contain sensitive information for companies in and out of the healthcare industry. Our recurring mail platform and client vault network are HITRUST certified, and our 100 percent match mailing process ensures each patient receives the correct information. Our employees are trained annually on HIPAA requirements, and we have a 98 percent on-time delivery rate with higher than 99 percent order accuracy.

We understand the burden of cutting waste, managing spend, and personalizing communication without compromising patient privacy, and we’re dedicated to partnering with healthcare organizations to ease that burden—and improve print marketing and communication effectiveness overall. To discover how we partner with healthcare organizations across the country, contact us today.

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