Podcast #101

Boost ROI & Patient Trust in 2024: How to Build and Implement a HIPAA-Compliant Tech Stack

Join us this week on Ignite to explore how healthcare marketers tackle the challenge of lead attribution and marketing ROI within HIPAA constraints. Our hosts, CEO, Alex Membrillo and Chief Strategy Officer, Rich Briddock discuss how to build a compliant technology stack using tools like call tracking and analytics. They also explore how such a stack enhances lead quality, compliance, patient insights, and revenue growth, ensuring alignment with legal and ethical boundaries. So tune in as our hosts reveal the secrets to building a robust, HIPAA-compliant martech stack that not only protects you from legal woes but also streamlines your operations and maximizes your marketing efforts.

Episode Highlights:

Rich Briddock: A benefit [of marketing and operations alignment] is if you’re able to stand up a MarTech stack that allows you to optimize towards new patient leads or existing patient leads, you’re driving less phone calls that are not that. You’re driving less form submissions that are not those things, less solicitation, less spam. That’s obviously time that your Ops team is having to take to follow up with those leads that go nowhere.

You are actually creating operational efficiencies. It’s about taking the time for the marketing teams of these organizations to get the buy-in from their operational counterparts to understand the benefits of why this MarTech is going to actually pay dividends. Again, understand that it’s not actually that much of a lift to stand it up in the first place.”

Episode Overview

Alex Membrillo and Rich Briddock unravel the intricacies of making MarTech HIPAA compliant, explaining why it matters and how to build the right MarTech stack for your organization.

Our hosts share insights on why the correct MarTech stack is crucial, recounting hiccups clients faced in the past year and highlighting the positive impact it can have on your organization. They explore the challenges faced by healthcare marketers, emphasizing the need to prove ROI and lead attribution, as highlighted by 53% of surveyed healthcare marketers.

The conversation delves into the significance of HIPAA-compliant marketing and the concerns surrounding it in 2024. The duo outlines the plan for Cardinal in Q1—focusing on HIPAA compliance, building the right tech systems, addressing hiccups, and achieving Marketing and Operations Alignment (MOps) for seamless functionality. 

The episode underscores the core components of a HIPAA-compliant MarTech stack, emphasizing the need for online analytics solutions, offline lead tracking, and call tracking solutions. Rich breaks down the essential components, such as online analytics tools like Mixpanel or Heap, and offline lead tracking solutions like Line or Patient Prism.

The episode concludes with a focus on patient experience improvement, reduced unqualified leads, and increased operational efficiency. Alex and Rich leave you with a step-by-step guide on where to start, highlighting the need for internal alignment, evaluating options, and prioritizing the implementation of key components. If you’re navigating the complexities of MarTech in the healthcare industry, this Ignite episode is your compass. Tune in and let Alex and Rich guide you through the journey of achieving a HIPAA-compliant MarTech stack that not only safeguards your organization but also elevates your marketing sophistication in 2024. Don’t miss out on this insightful conversation that’s set to shape the future of healthcare marketing!

Related Resources

Announcer: Welcome to the Ignite Podcast, the only healthcare marketing podcast that digs into the digital strategies and tactics that help you accelerate growth. Each week, Cardinal’s experts explore innovative ways to build your digital presence and attract more patients. Buckle up for another episode of Ignite.

Alex Membrillo: All right, first podcast recording of 2024, let’s go. This is good, guys. This is good. We’re going to talk about what’s all on your minds. How do I know it’s on your minds? Because you said it in scaling up last month. We’re going to be talking about MarTech, how to make it HIPAA compliant, why it matters, and this guy’s been through the rigmarole. We’re going to talk about why building the right MarTech stack matters, hiccups we’ve seen in clients doing it incorrectly over the last year or so, and all the right things that it does for your organization and how to do it cheap, how to do it right, how to do it fast. You picked two of those. Rich, welcome to Ignite.

Rich Briddock: Hey, Alex. Happy 2024.

Alex: I don’t know, but let’s get into it. Rich, 53% of healthcare marketers we surveyed, that is four out of eight that we surveyed, said that lead attribution and inability to demonstrate ROI was their top marketing challenge going into 2024. Clearly, we’re getting more pressure to prove it and we don’t quite know how. We also heard that HIPAA-compliant marketing was the second biggest concern going into this year. It makes sense because all of the regulations happened in ’23. We’re not scrambling anymore, but we still maybe are in a little bit of standstill. We’re constantly hearing this from clients.

That’s why in Q1 of this year, you’re going to hear a lot from Cardinal about HIPAA compliant, this, that, building the right tech systems, hiccups, what you do, what can go wrong, and how do we get MOps, Marketing and Operations Alignment, to make sure it all happens. We’re going to be your buddy for all things HIPAA-compliant marketing. Let’s get into it. We all know why you need to build a HIPAA-compliant marketing tech stack, right? Because you’re going to get sued. What are the core components when we talk about that? What are the top things that people need to think about? Let’s just start there, and then we’ll get into how do we do it.

Rich: I think in terms of what you want your MarTech stack to do. You want it to measure the outcomes of your marketing efforts, and you want to do that in a compliant way. Ideally, in terms of measuring the outcome, that can be a pretty specific thing. You don’t want to just measure leads, like form submissions and phone calls that you drive, but you want to measure whether you got a new patient, or whether you were able to reactivate an existing patient, essentially, whether you were able to drive a booking, and what the revenue was that was associated with that booking.

I think what we’re talking about here is two things. One is compliancy and not getting sued, as you said. The other is actually having a MarTech stack that will measure what your goal is as an organization.

Alex: The measuring is done by what? What are the key things in there?

Rich: Key components are going to be an online analytics solution. Think of something like a Mixpanel or a Heap for tracking your web activity, and then your form submissions that happen or online bookings, submissions that happen on the site, and then an offline lead tracking solution.

Think about something like a Line or a Patient Prism or a Call Box that track what call outcomes you’re driving. Are people calling up and booking an appointment? Are they new patients? Are they existing patients? You want to leverage a call-tracking solution that has AI capabilities in order to tell you those things, and then send those signals back to your ad platforms and to your analytics solution so that you can optimize your marketing efforts accordingly.

Alex: Call and lead tracking analytics, and that pretty much wraps it up, online scheduling. All of those are going to be HIPAA-compliant probably.

Rich: Exactly. It’s important when you’re looking at your online scheduling solution because some of them play nicely in the sandbox with other technologies, and some of them don’t. Again, if you want to be able to measure and tie back the signals of online bookings, you should be looking at that when you are selecting your online scheduling solution if you haven’t already picked one.

Alex: All right, wow. A lot of variables here. It’s almost like we should say I have a consulting practice. $15,000 an hour time with Rich. What is the biggest hurdle you’ve seen? Our marketing clients, our friends, where are they getting tripped up?

Rich: I think it’s getting organizational buy-in is oftentimes one of the biggest hurdles.

Alex: Because it’s expensive, because it affects other departments.

Rich: Because it’s change. No one likes change, especially, if you yourself don’t understand what the benefit is of that change. For marketers, for us, it’s really easy if I say, “Hey, you should go on a better call tracking solution that tells you the outcome of all the calls because marketers are like, “Great, now I can see my ROI, which was the biggest thing that we heard of scaling up.

If you’re an operational person, what benefit do you get from overhauling your call-tracking solution? Other than potentially having to retrain staff, get them to learn new systems, having to integrate with your VoIP, having to do all these other things. That just sounds like work unless you really understand the benefit.

I think it’s important for us to outline some of the benefits and to underline that the benefits of this MarTech stuff is not just for the marketing team. One of the key benefits to, especially, the call tracking software is you can actually listen to the performance of your team answering the phone. You’ve got folks who are picking up and you can understand why those calls, if it’s a new patient lead or an existing patient lead, why they’re not converting into scheduled appointments.

Alex: You can also find out why locations aren’t converting appointments. You don’t have the right payer partnerships. You’re too far. Your advertising is in the wrong places. Your Ops team isn’t saying the right things that matter to that geography. It’s this MOps thing. I think Teresa said, I need to give a shout-out to her. It’s getting alignment with Ops. You’re going to have to sell Ops on the benefits to them, a lot of those that you just said.

Rich: Another benefit too is if you’re able to stand up a MarTech stack that allows you to optimize towards new patient leads or existing patient leads, you’re driving less phone calls that are not that. You’re driving less form submissions that are not those things, less solicitation, less spam. That’s obviously time that your Ops team is having to take to follow up with those leads that go nowhere.

You are actually creating operational efficiencies. It’s about taking the time for the marketing teams of these organizations to get the buy-in from their operational counterparts to understand the benefits of why this MarTech is going to actually pay dividends. Again, understand that it’s not actually that much of a lift to stand it up in the first place.

Alex: It’s not that much of a lift. It can be at a big organization, I think. I think you also say, “Hey, listen, we’re going to get sued.

Rich: That’s easy.

Alex: You can keep complaining, and we’re going to get sued. Let’s talk about the analytics part. Is it easy to switch the marketing analytics thing? Because that won’t really affect anyone. Google Analytics, we just stopped using that for the most part. We put on a Mixpanel or something like that.

Rich: Yes, That’s the easiest.

Alex: That one’s easy. It doesn’t involve any operational things, but then also some clients I think are staying with Google Analytics and putting on a CDP and just bringing in the data that way. How does that work?

Rich: Essentially, what a CDP does is it’s a layer between the website and Google Analytics. Essentially, it controls what information gets sent back to Google Analytics. Instead of Google Analytics having its tag on the site and just being able to suck up everything. A CDP says, “No, Google Analytics, you can have access to these pieces of information that allow Google Analytics to be used in the client.

Alex: CDP, FreshPaint is our good friend. We love Ray. Do they implement this? I know it’s not the most simple form of MarTech. Do they implement it? Do they teach you? Do you find someone on Upwork? Do you use Cardinal? How do you do that?

Rich: Yes. FreshPaint will definitely help assist you with the implementation and the setup. The event tracking is relatively straightforward through FreshPaint. Then, it’s just a case of what signals do you send. I think also it’s going to vary from organization to organization, depending on the rigidity of their posture with HIPAA compliance, on what information they’ll want to send to these downstream platforms. That’s where the compliance team will have to be involved.

I think that’s a key piece for all of this, is that there’s a way to recreate the past to get back to where you were with HIPAA-compliant technologies, but it’s what risk and what exposure are you willing to bear from a legal point of view? Because some extensions of HIPAA compliance are a lot more stringent than others, depending on the organization.

Alex: Yes, it’s usually our bigger clients, bigger groups have to be more cautious, we’re finding. What benefit, if I layer on the CDP on Google Analytics, is there a benefit to advertising instead of just going to a Mixpanel? Does the CDP help advertise better, paid social, you can send more back or something?

Rich: Yes. I think the benefit of a CDP is that there is more out-of-the-box functionality around remarketing, retargeting, on paid social, on display. FreshPaint has a number of good integrations with Facebook, with StackAdapt, which is a display platform that we leverage. Like I said, it’s a way to quickly get back to the advertising landscape that you were living in before this bombshell in December 2022 around HIPAA compliancy.

I do think that there are other mechanisms in which to build out that functionality without a CDP, but it’s more legwork that you have to put in yourself. Again, it’s, “Do you want a turnkey solution that maybe you’re going to pay a little bit more for, or do you want to build this functionality in-house that might end up being a little bit cheaper, but it’s going to be more effort, more legwork?”

Alex: The simple way to do this is get a good call and lead tracking platform and upload the offline events back into the ad platform so your advertising continues to improve. The more advanced version is get call and lead tracking platform, get a CDP, keep analytics, and then you can monitor all the signals and pass them back up and down and all that fun stuff.

Rich: Yes, or you could even get rid of– We have clients who use a CDP and use a HIPAA-compliant analytics solution. We have a client that uses Freshpaint and they use Mixpanel.

Alex: Do they?

Rich: They are completely protected. They’re not sending any information.

Alex: Their advertising has improved?

Rich: Their advertising is improving, yes, absolutely.

Alex: All right, benefits of building the right MarTech stack other than not getting sued. You get to hear from the patients, call and lead tracking, like you actually can listen. Then, patient experience improves? How? Why?

Rich: Patient experience definitely improves because you can use these tools to train your operational people to do the right things, handle the objections more effectively, to make sure that the script is correct in terms of when someone calls up and says, “Hey, I’m not sure about this, is this something that I need?” They can say all the right things. It also helps you understand the concern of the patient.

If you start listening to these calls and start categorizing them, you can understand that 80% of patients have this particular question, where you can start to put that onto your website content, start building content-

Alex: That’s smart.

Rich: -and actually, address these before they even call, which again, now, means your operational people don’t have to deal with these challenges. They don’t have to answer these questions. It makes them more effective. They go straight to the booking of the appointment. There is an inherent benefit to really understanding your patient. These are the solutions that give you that.

Alex: It’s like a cheat code to content creation. Something else I found out about how to create great content in ’24, go ask your providers what matters to the practice and what is the new innovations in technology, what they think the patients care about. That’s a good point of content. That’s a side note, a different podcast for another time. We’ve heard from clients that the right tech also reduces unqualified leads. How does it do that?

Rich: Because you’re essentially tracking both qualified leads and unqualified leads. Instead of just tracking phone calls, and form submissions, and online appointments, you’re actually now able to track new patients’ scheduled appointments, existing patients’ scheduled appointments, and then only send those signals back to the app.

Alex: On the net new.

Rich: Then, the app platform will essentially optimize towards just those signals.

Alex: That’s how it does it, is over time, you’re going to get more net new patient leads because that’s what you’re sending back because these technologies help bifurcate door number one and two and door number three.

Rich: Yes, exactly. If you think about the old-school way of doing it, it’s any phone call over 60 seconds. You can get a ton of unqualified phone calls that happen over 60 seconds. It could be a nightmare for your operational team to deal with, endless billing questions, or solicitation spam, partnerships, people hitting them up with sales calls.

Alex: How does it help? How do all these things help with capacity? We heard a lot about advertising to capacity, where it is, all that stuff. Once again, marketing and Ops alignment. This is fun because you pushed our agency to start doing all these things two years ago. Now, it’s like, en vogue in the marketing industry. That’s cool. Kudos to you. How does all of this help with capacity alignment and that fun stuff?

Rich: I think it makes it more reliable. It makes your forecasting more reliable. It makes the levers that you can pull on the marketing side more reliable in terms of what you’ve had to yield on the operational side. If I now can track the number of new patient appointments that I book or the number of existing patient appointments that I book and how much it costs to do those things, I should, in theory, be able to say, “Okay, if I spend an incremental $10,000 at this location this month, I can fill the capacity gap,” because I know I’m going to drive 500 appointments or 50 appointments or whatever that gap is.

Whereas before, if I was just tracking phone calls, I might drive an incremental 1,000 phone calls for that additional dollar, but none of them might be new patient appointments or existing patient appointments. Now, it allows you to say– Your operations team can come to you and say, “Hey, we’ve got a shortfall at this location, or we’ve got a shortfall for this service line.” Marketing can say, “Great, I know if I spend an X number of dollars on digital, I can close that gap because we’ve got the right signals.”

Alex: That’s what everyone’s looking for. That goes back to what everybody’s complaining about, “Don’t know how to prove the ROI, thus, I don’t know where to spend the next dollar, or where.” All right, so lots of great information here. Very cool. Help us sum it up because, Rich, let’s pretend for a minute you’re in-house. You’ve never been, but just pretend like you are for a second, okay? You’ve left the dark side, and you’re now in a happier, safer place.

Rich: Yes, feels good.

Alex: Don’t leave yet. Where would you start? Give us the exact things you would do.

Rich: I think first thing to do is to get internal alignment. Flag this as an issue. There are some people inside of your organization that might not even understand-

Alex: Yes, even the lawyers.

Rich: -even the lawyers that you are no longer compliant with your use of pixels and tracking technologies. I think number one objective is to get everybody in the room, get the legal team on board, get IT on board, anybody else, Ops, anybody that you’re going to be working with through this process. Then, the next thing to do would be to, once you’ve got everybody in alignment, that you need to move to a HIPAA-compliant MarTech stack, then it’s about evaluating your options to achieve that.

Alex: Your options need to be what?

Rich: They need to be, at a bare minimum, a HIPAA-compliant analytics solution.

Alex: They need to integrate with what other things?

Rich: Then, you need to be looking at, do you need to pass signals to an EHR. Do you have an online scheduler that needs to pass tracking signals back to your analytics solution? I think understanding not just the compliant bits or the pieces that you’re replacing, but the entire stack and how it’s going to work together is going to be really important because even though GA4 is pretty useless and pretty terrible, it has a lot of fantastic integrations that partners have built around it, integrating into EHRs and CRMs, et cetera. That’s something that you may lose when you move away from GA4 and you want to think about that.

I’d say that the final piece is probably the offline lead and call tracking solution. Most call tracking solutions on the market right now, whether they have the capabilities that we’ve been talking about in this podcast or not, are HIPAA compliant. From a compliancy point of view, the onus is not going to be to look at that first, but to do all the cool stuff that we’ve been talking about in terms of understanding new patient appointments that you’re driving, filling capacity gaps, all that, making better investment decisions, that’s when you’re going to need to go to a more advanced offline lead tracking solution.

Alex: Yes, I like it. It’s like you go to Ops and then find out all of the technologies and systems they’re using first, and then you evaluate what do you plan on keeping, growing, getting rid of, and then we figure out what marketing stuff will integrate with all that fun tech that Ops also has.

Rich: Then, you prioritize which pieces you’re putting in place first.

Alex: It’s like if I’m a marketing leader, I’ve got 30 days of, probably, discovery with Ops like, “What matters to you? What do you envision using where, what works, what’s not working? Then, I’ve got 30 days of getting vendor introductions, and proposals, and different things. Then, month two or three, I’m presenting to the wider team on different systems I’m looking at. We’ve talked a lot about systems, but people matter too. Just one marketing director in-house would struggle, I think, with this.

Rich: Yes, it’s a complex problem. I think the other thing too is if you are not compliant, it is a complex problem that has a timer attached to it. What you laid out is incredibly reasonable, but I’d also say if you think it’s going to take three months to stand up a HIPAA-compliant MarTech stack, get rid of the non-HIPAA-compliant stuff today. At least start by just stripping those pixels off the site, take Google Analytics off, take Google Ads off, and just don’t run the risk of being caught up in a class action lawsuit or caught by the FTC.

Alex: Your advertising might suck for a few months, but that’s it.

Rich: That’s okay. That’s the lesser of the two evils.

Alex: It’s got to just be okay for now. All right, Rich. We’re talking about the systems, the people, the alignment. Any final words you want in-house marketers to think about as they go into this?

Rich: Yes, I think it’s a complex transition. If you need assistance, there are people out there who have done this many times already, both on the vendor side and also on the agency side. Obviously, we’ve guided our clients through a number of these implementations, and we’re happy to do so if you guys need help. Good luck with your journey to a HIPAA-compliant marketing stack. I think there’s opportunity for a ton of upside in terms of your marketing sophistication in 2024, as well as just focusing on the client’s piece.

Alex: It’s not just, “We’re going to help you become compliant.” This technology will improve the patient experience. It will improve your bottom line. It will improve net new patient volume. It will improve capacity alignment, and you’re not going to get sued. All of these things are wonderful.

Guys, if you’re wondering where to start, just ping us. We have lots of clients that have gone through this. We [unintelligible 00:19:08]. We’ve got a great community. We’ll connect you with one or two of them, and you can learn from their mistakes over the last year, so you don’t have to be the guinea pig. They’re happy to help. This is a healthcare marketing community. It’s fun. We love each other, and just feel free to reach out. You don’t have to figure this out on your own, and we have unbiased resources that will help you. Thank you for listening to Ignite, and Rich, thank you for showing up-

Rich: Thanks.

Alex: -sleepy and everything else.


Announcer: Thanks for listening to this episode of Ignite. Interested in keeping up with the latest trends in healthcare marketing? Subscribe to our podcast and leave a rating and review. For more healthcare marketing tips, visit our blog at cardinaldigitalmarketing.com.

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