5 Legal and Ethical Considerations for Health Care Marketing

December 18, 2016

The way that health care marketing promotes its products has had to evolve over the last few years. Many changes in how people obtain information and who has access to health care have created new considerations. A smart business will be mindful of the updates as they craft their marketing platform. The industry has always been highly regarded for an unparalleled level of ethics. This new age puts that image to the test, with Internet freedom, new ethnic groups, and consumer freedom.

1. Becoming multicultural

As the size of different ethnic groups across the United States grows, it means more groups are insured and receiving services and medication, and a wider range of ethnic physicians are helping them. Work to understand how to speak to different groups in marketing language. Successful companies will evaluate if their current health care marketing strategies reach multicultural patients, and if the message contained within resonates with them.

2. Anti kickback laws and Stark laws

Strict laws protect consumer abuse by not allowing doctors to refer products or services to patients if they receive kickbacks for them. Doctor pampering and support was the name of the game years ago, but with today’s growing number of physicians assistants, nurse practitioners, and regulatory groups doing much of the treatment plans and purchasing for offices, it gets more difficult to approach company promotion that way. Unfortunately, some groups may still feel a desire to give special thanks to those that support them.

3. Consumer freedom

With the age of the Internet came the age of the independent medical product consumer. With access to products, treatments, and services across the world, the consumer can go directly to companies for their needs, and completely bypass any medical professional. While gaining patient attention is a good way to increase awareness about a particular product, care should be taken to help people fully understand the product and its intended use and side effects, in order to keep from harming or taking advantage of them.

4. Unproven research on web

With a good deal of false information on the web, health care marketing professionals need to do their due diligence on their content before it is released through advertisements, emails, and social media. It order to not misspeak to customers or promote incorrect information, groups should have solid support for all claims and promotions within their content. Unscrupulous groups will take advantage of this situations, as the modern day snake oil salesmen. It takes extra care by those that are truly attempting to promote healthy products.

5. Sharing and gathering patient lists

For many marketing channels, there is not much use for your message without a list to send it to. Often, those lists are shared amongst related or partnered organizations. The problem is that for the health care industry, patient information is protected by law. Even when that information is gathered through a company’s website and not through a doctor, if it was gotten under the premise of health care questions, companies should be very careful about how they use that information. Spy ware is another information gathering technique that is highly questionable, but could be used by some less scrupulous health care marketing groups.

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