Posted on December 10, 2012
By: Mike Milligan, President Legato Healthcare
As competition between healthcare providers continues to surge,
hospitals need to step up the pace when it comes to their marketing
But in the "world according to HIPAA," many marketers feel like
their hands are tied under stringent rules that define "marketing"
"A communication about a product
or service that encourages recipients of the communication to
purchase or use the product or service."
With limited exceptions, the Privacy Rule requires an
individual's written authorization before a use or disclosure of
his or her protected health information can be made for marketing.
So how can marketers effectively market?
First and foremost, don't let HIPAA become an excuse for
tapering off on your marketing efforts. Knowledge is power. So take
some time to familiarize (or re-familiarize) yourself with HIPAA's
marketing rules. Here are some general guidelines to keep in mind
as you plan for the year ahead.
- Testimonials: Patient testimonials can add
credibility to many marketing campaigns. Obviously, a patient must
approve the use of a specific testimonial before it can be
used. But don't stop with a "standard" release form. HIPAA
regulations and release forms also apply. And be sure to keep all
signed copies on file. Same goes with using patient photos. Be sure
to get - and retain - photo releases.
- Truth in advertising: There's not much room
for vague statements under HIPAA. So if you can't back it up, don't
make the statement. Advertising claims must be factual - and
- Mailing lists: When it comes to direct
marketing to consumers, do not use lists that originate
from personal records, such as private practice information. Note,
however, there is an exception to the marketing definition which
permits communications by a covered entity about its own products
or services. For example, under this exception, it is not
- A hospital uses its patient list to announce the arrival of a
new specialty group (e.g., orthopedic) or the acquisition of new
equipment (e.g., x-ray machine or magnetic resonance image machine)
through a general mailing or publication.
- A health plan sends a mailing to subscribers approaching
Medicare eligible age with materials describing its Medicare
supplemental plan and an application form.
- Authorization is a given - in most cases: The
HIPAA Privacy Rule requires an authorization for uses or
disclosures of protected health information for all marketing
communications, except in two circumstances:
- When the communication occurs in a face-to-face encounter
between the covered entity and the individual; or
- The communication involves a promotional gift of nominal
- When it doubt, check it out: If you have
questions, refer them to a legal professional who's familiar with
your state's laws. Also be sure to check out the Marketing section
HHS.gov to review details about marketing under HIPAA.
Posted on December 14, 2012
By: John Corpus, Vice President of
Strategy, Legato Healthcare Marketing
Have you ever gotten so caught-up in client work that you forget
to promote your own business? Your agency is a great guinea pig for
any type of campaign you want to test before you propose it to a
client. Here is a great example of what we are taking a shot
As a small agency, it is hard to gather a following, but even
more so to capture "Likes" on our Facebook page. So, we are running
a micro-campaign to generate some "Likes" and create a little buzz
about Legato, which is what advertising and marketing is all about.
And the way we're doing it, is so simple, anyone can do it.
Our campaign consists of nothing more than making a donation to
the American Red Cross Superstorm Sandy Relief effort, but we are
asking for help from our personal and business connections. And, by
partnering with a reputable non-profit organization like the Red
Cross, we also have access to their nationwide network.
Here is the skinny: for each Facebook Page "Like" we receive, we
will donate $1, up to $2,000. And we want to do this by Christmas.
What do you think our chances are for success?
The logistics are simple, but strong: we believe we can do it
and we want to be successful. The success however, is not so much
in achieving 2,000 "Likes," but rather in making it count for
something outside of the business.
Meanwhile, if you want to check our Facebook Page to see how the
"Likes" are coming along, go to www.facebook.com/LegatoMarketing.
We started with 90. Oh, and while you are there, why don't you
"Like" us as well.
If this idea sparks you to action, let us know; we would love to
hear about it.
Have a Merry Christmas, and let's hope that we can make it merry
for those suffering the plight of Superstorm Sandy as well.
Posted on December 18, 2012
By: Nicole Hangartner, Account
Executive, Legato Healthcare Marketing
To a healthcare organization (especially a rural hospital or
clinic), awards for patient satisfaction, employee satisfaction and
overall performance are big talking points. While they demonstrate
your commitment to quality care, they can't always stand alone in
an advertisement without seeming too boastful.
Here are three ways to modestly promote your organization's
- Awards are a great topic for social media posts. When creating
award posts, think about mentioning and thanking the people who
helped the organization win the award. Providing this recognition
can increase employee, physician and even patient engagement on
your page. If someone is mentioned in the post, he or she will be
more likely to share it with friends and family. Also, if
available, include a photo from the award ceremony or a link to an
article announcing the award.
- Save a space on your website for awards. Have a page that lists
all your awards and then highlight the most recent on the homepage.
If the award pertains to a specific service line, add a blurb about
it on that specific service line page. That way, patients searching
for that type of care will see that you excel in it.
- Don't just create an ad announcing your latest award; tie it in
naturally with real patient benefits for a more impactful message.
If you won an award for cardiac care, use a real patient success
story to demonstrate why you won that award. This is the perfect
opportunity to brag a little without full-on chest banging.
Posted on December 26, 2012
By: Mike Milligan, President, Legato Healthcare
Not too long ago, online technology took market research to new
heights of speed, reach and cost efficiencies. Online surveys made
it easier to get in front of busy professionals, and just as busy
stay-at-home moms and dads, and computer-savvy Gen Xers.
So where does market research go from here? Think mobile. And
while you're thinking, here are some stats to back up those
- In 2011, there were 835 million smartphone users, 5.6 billion
feature phone users (Mary Meeker, Kleiner Perkins, Morgan Stanley
Research via Business Insider).
- Global internet usage will more than double by 2015, and most
of these users will be mobile (Boston Consulting Group, Mary
Meeker, Kleiner Perkins, Morgan Stanley Research, Berg Insight via
- Adults spend more media time on mobile devices than
with newspapers and magazines combined (eMarketer December
- On average, it takes 90 minutes to respond to an email, but 90
seconds to respond to a text message (CTIA).
"Going mobile" is not - I repeat "NOT" - the be all and end all
when it comes to conducting market research in 2013 and beyond.
However, it may be another viable tool if you want to capture data
on a larger scale, but with less detail.
For example, brief mobile studies can be developed to reach
smartphone owners using web-based surveys for mobile browsers, as
well as standard cell phone users. Let me underscore the word
If and when you go mobile with your market research, make sure
your survey is easy for consumers/patients, physicians, staff -
whoever your target audience - to provide quick feedback.
That way you can identify the responders (i.e., those who are
willing to share their reactions with you), then follow up with a
more traditional qualitative survey online.