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Partnering marketing and privacy to develop a proactive privacy program

Lisa Taylor ( is Vice President & Chief Compliance Officer, and Daniel S. Elmlinger ( is Compliance Operations Analyst at UC Health in Cincinnati, OH.

Privacy programs need to take the pulse on what is going on in their organizations, but some programs may struggle to keep up with their organizations’ initiatives. Put simply, there is a limited number of people in privacy programs (sometimes only one person or a fraction of a full-time equivalent) but a multitude of information and ideas being exchanged across the organization. Sometimes privacy may get pulled into an idea or issue too late, or sometimes not until after a decision has been made, and then weeks, months, or maybe even years of work and procedures must be undone in order to safeguard patients’ privacy. Every privacy professional dreads this moment, but every privacy professional can likely remember at least one incident like this. Short of approval to hire as many members onto your team as you would like, the next best solution is to proactively partner with teams in your organization. This partnership will help encourage a culture of compliance in your organization, one team at a time. One of the best teams to work with in your organization is the marketing & communications team.

This article will provide tips and suggestions to leverage your organization’s marketing and communications (marketing) department to help develop a more proactive privacy program. This leverage comes from:

  1. More efficient social media monitoring for possible HIPAA issues;

  2. Risk-specific training and development with your workforce;

  3. Better communication about your privacy program and what it does;

  4. Compliance with the Breach Notification Rule in case the worst happens at your organization; and most importantly,

  5. Stronger safeguards for some of your organization’s high-profile patients.

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