Drug rehab marketers—we know you have a lot to juggle these days. With HIPAA, the nuances of Google Ads & LegitScript, and the clear objective of trying to reach your prospective clients in a way that isn’t invasive (and in a manner that can actually help them), you’ve likely got a lot on your plate.
But if you’re reading this blog post, you’ve come to the right place. In fact, you’re likely a LegitScript-informed addiction treatment marketing leader looking to understand how HIPAA plays a role in your digital marketing efforts to reach those who need critical drug rehab treatment.
As a risk resource for internet platforms, LegitScript aims to help establish credibility and prevent illicit activity related to the online sales and marketing of drugs at its core. But in 2018, it expanded to certifying alcohol and drug rehab centers at the behest of Google.
Online businesses may be booming, especially in this pandemic world. Yet as these businesses grow, so does the potential for illegal activity pertaining to online marketing tactics and sales methods.
For years, consumers were buying medications like Viagra from vague pharmacies, without being certain if those pharmacies were actually real. There was no one to provide verification services to validate the legitimacy of these online sellers, which made things even more confusing and dangerous!
That’s where LegitScript came into play. LegitScript has compiled critical resources for online companies like pharmaceuticals. These resources address the myriad of high-risk activities online businesses may face so that they can be prepared for the future.
While LegitScript is a somewhat private entity, it’s also a verification authority that has positioned itself to consumers as a leader in validating the authenticity of businesses selling pharmaceuticals online.
Online pharmacies are no joke—in fact, they’re a pretty big deal these days. And when an online pharmacy has a LegitScript badge on their website, you know they’re serious and legitimate. This LegitScript badge helps establish credibility and authority on an internet pharmacy’s site in a way that’s similar to having an SSL certificate.
And in 2018, this method of legitimacy online applied to addiction treatment centers. Google made the LegitScript certification mandatory for all rehabs that want to advertise on its platform. As of February 2021, LegitScript is still only for rehabs based in the US. Still no word on when rehabs in Canada, the UK, and other countries will be allowed to seek certification.
But where/why does Google come into all of this?
Well, Google realized that it needed to revise its system for addiction treatment marketing ads back in 2017. You see, health advocates and government authorities were alarmed about the dangers presented when drug addicts clicked on ads for fake drug rehab centers online. These drug rehab centers were either completely fictional, or they were woefully inadequate in addressing an addict’s needs. This was a problem because these rehab centers usually existed solely to make money off of vulnerable parties, rather than actually treating those in need of help.
So, Google took action and began restricting ads that appear when prospective drug rehab clients search for addiction treatment on Google. In this way, it hoped to curb the spread of false drug rehab centers on the web. The tech giant had to install parameters to ensure their hands were clean in the eyes of regulators and protect themselves from permitting untrue information. But this was a massive undertaking that Google couldn’t do alone.
To help enact the changes needed to reform the drug marketing ads Google allowed to proliferate the internet, Google forged a partnership with LegitScript. This partnership allowed treatment centers to obtain a certification through LegitScript—in turn, this certification allows those treatment centers to run ads through Google Ads.
This system allows Google to outsource the verifying of rehabs, pharmacies and online drug retailers to LegitScript. In this way, LegitScript can still practice what it does best, and Google’s role doesn’t kick in until the businesses are certified to run the ads, which they can do through the Google Ads platform.
So, as you can see, LegitScript exists to help Google. A couple of companies helping each other. HIPAA, on the other hand, is a government mandate enforced by the Office of Civil Rights (OCR). LegitScript and HIPAA aren’t actually connected. And while LegitScript makes sure a rehab is above board and follows all legal requirements, including HIPAA compliance, it doesn’t tell you how to market your addiction treatment center — that’s Google’s policy. One of these Google policies is that rehabs (and other healthcare entities) cannot run retargeting campaigns on their platform, for example.
You’re a drug rehab marketer, so we’re sure HIPAA compliance is something at the top of your mind. Ever since HIPAA was passed in 1996 to keep the medical information of patients safe and secure through data privacy measures and security provisions, organizations have had to tread lightly. Consequently, your rehab’s operational and compliance teams ends up spending time to ensure patient privacy is highly protected, especially through the EMR.
Complying with HIPAA is also important since HIPAA does carry fines for those in violation of it.
So, when you’re checking to see if your drug rehab marketing efforts align with HIPAA, LegitScript doesn’t have anything to do with it. Unless of course, you’re going over to the dark side of patient brokering, or whatever it’s called these days. HIPAA-compliant marketing positions your rehab as a leader when prospective patients are looking for treatment.
Once you understand the distinction, you’ll see that LegitScript is not stopping you from key marketing programs like retargeting, and neither is HIPAA. It is the platform, in this case Google. It just doesn’t want to take any unnecessary risk and get involved in how retargeting was used through their platform. It is incredibly easy in this day and age for anyone to launch retargeting campaigns on Google. So if one weren’t privy with the requirements of HIPAA, it could drag Google into messy lawsuits.
And there you have it. Now you know the relationship LegitScript and Google share. Even though HIPAA exists separately from that relationship, it’s still important for LegitScript users and drug rehab marketers using Google Ads to comply with HIPAA.
Keeping up with regulations and marketing technology is difficult enough to juggle with meetings and conference calls. You can do it all with the help of a seasoned organization in addiction treatment rehab marketing. Frostynova has been doing this since 2010 (yes, before and after LegitScript).
Our retargeting was built from the ground up, with privacy at the center. Get in touch to learn how we can help you increase census.