Those who go into healthcare generally want to help the communities they serve. In today’s market, this can mean that you need to advertise to let patients know about the different services your healthcare center offers and how it may stand out from other options when it comes to quality of care.
Although this is beneficial not just to your practice but for the community as well, it is something that healthcare leaders need to handle with caution.
Why is caution required?
Because when it comes to marketing in healthcare the rules are different then any other industry. Marketing tactics that are legal and encouraged in other industries can result in allegations of criminal wrongdoing when used in the healthcare industry.
The marketing rules for healthcare are extremely complex and include federal, state, and even local regulations. A failure to abide by these rules can result in more than just a reprimand — serious allegations can lead to criminal charges.
What are the regulations that I need to know?
Again, as noted above they can vary depending on where you practice. Three federal regulations of note include:
- HIPAA. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) serves to protect patient health information. Any marketing using a successful patient story to help highlight the quality of care provided at your practice could violate this law. There are steps you can take, such as getting patient consent, to use these stories while remaining in compliance with this law.
- Stark Law. This law focuses specifically on physicians and guides certain arrangements with other professionals. It includes strict guidelines when it comes to referral-based marketing.
- Anti-Kickback Statute. The AKS applies when patients are beneficiaries of a government program, like Medicare, and makes it illegal to pay, solicit, or receive remuneration for referrals.
These are just a few examples. It is wise to speak with legal counsel in your area to better understand the impact of any state or local regulations.
Can I still market my healthcare business?
As billboard and ads on various forms of media have shown, it is possible to market a healthcare business. You just need to follow the rules. The best practices are always evolving, but an attorney experienced in this niche area of healthcare law can review your practices and help better ensure your marketing plan complies with applicable rules and regulations.
Attorney John Rivas is responsible for this communication