Healthcare providers have come under fire for their use of third-party analytics software — such as Meta Pixel, Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics — over the past year. These tools are usually free and can give hospitals insight into the way consumers use their websites, but the tech companies who provide this software can also use patient data to profile Internet users as they browse.
Despite federal warnings and a flurry of class-action lawsuits, reports show that hospitals are doing a poor job of fixing their websites and preventing patient data collection. On Tuesday, WebMD struck a partnership to help hospitals buck this trend and stay in compliance with privacy regulations.
WebMD Ignite — the company’s division that offers tech solutions to providers and health plans — is teaming up with healthcare privacy platform Freshpaint. Through the partnership, Freshpaint will help WebMD Ignite customers by removing non-compliant tracking technologies from their websites, de-identifying and masking individual visitors to enable performance reporting, and controlling data flow across the whole marketing tech stack to prevent patient data from reaching places it shouldn’t go.
When selecting a healthcare privacy platform to partner with, WebMD audited seven vendors, said Ann Bilyew, who is the company’s senior vice president of health as well as group general manager for WebMD Ignite.
“FreshPaint was the only solution that focused on pixel and cookie governance as a core feature, as opposed to only offering an analytics software solution. Our evaluators were drawn to the pixel governance approach because it empowers healthcare marketers to control the amount and type of information that is collected and shared. This level of control allows for greater flexibility when a client seeks to determine which third-party analytics, ad tracking and user experience technologies it will use,” she explained.
By joining forces with Freshpaint, WebMD Ignite is seeking to help its customers — which include organizations such as Providence, Trinity Health, Advocate Aurora, VillageMD and Centene — grow their businesses while staying clear of data privacy risks.
People have more digital options than ever before and can interact with a single brand through multiple channels and modalities, Bilyew pointed out. Because of this, having trustworthy analytics data as well as the ability to measure ad spend, engagement and goal conversion is crucial to healthcare organizations’ digital marketing success, she added.
“For digital marketers, tools like Google Analytics, Google Ads and Meta Advertising are essential tools. There are no replacements for Google Ads’ search reach or Meta’s audience targeting. To go without is to be absent from the two most important marketplaces for reaching consumers digitally,” Bilyew declared.
She also noted that trust is one of the most important parts of a relationship between a consumer and their healthcare provider. This trust extends beyond the walls of the doctor’s office or hospital and into every interaction and touchpoint.
In recent years, Americans have grown increasingly wary about the way their digital activity is being tracked and used. Data leaks from big-name firms like Yahoo, Equifax and Marriott have fueled a growing desire for stronger governance and regulation for digital tracking technology, Bilyew pointed out.
“By implementing better governance controls over how and when digital tracking technology is used and what data can be shared, healthcare providers can still execute high performing digital tactics with measurement, while maintaining compliance. Without making changes, providers may be at-risk to litigation and consumer backlash,” she said.
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