Pixels and Tracking Technology: Advertisement or Invasion of Privacy?

Pixels and tracking technology are widely used to track customer behavior and gather data on the internet. This technology collects information like search queries, browsing history and more to help marketers create targeted advertisements. It all sounds harmless, right? For the healthcare industry, organizations interested in utilizing this technology may want to think twice, or at least prepare for potential risks.

Invasion of Privacy

Many healthcare organizations are utilizing pixels and tracking technology to help direct advertisements to their target customer base. Many only utilize this technology on their front-facing websites, but others have it in more compromising locations like patient portals.

While targeted advertisements are one thing, the biggest issue in utilizing this technology is organizations sending data they’ve tracked to social media sites like Facebook and to search engines like Google.  While sharing tracked data from spots like patient portals is an obvious issue, even data from front-facing websites can contain protected health information (PHI).

Sharing PHI is a HIPAA violation and could result in significant liability for a healthcare organization, even if done inadvertently. A June 2022 article from The Markup stated that 33 percent of the top 100 hospitals in the U.S. utilized pixels and tracking technology. Since that article was published, over 30 class action lawsuits have been filed against hospitals.

Know the Risks

A recent article from Beazley highlights several actions healthcare organizations can take to avoid HIPAA violations stemming from pixels and tracking technology use. These strategies include:

Want to Learn More?

A costly HIPAA violation is the last thing a healthcare organization wants to endure. While targeted advertising may be well-intentioned, it needs to be done in a way that does not compromise PHI. Talk to a trusted RCM&D advisor today for more on the risks of utilizing pixels and tracking technology.