Data Privacy and Security: What Addiction Treatment Center Marketers Need to Know to Protect Patient Data

Seeking treatment for a substance abuse disorder is one of the most personal and private decisions one can make. In doing so, the patient admits they have a problem and need help—two things most humans struggle to do. So why do some addiction treatment marketers continue to drop the ball on data privacy and security?

The question is fair, considering 99% of hospitals in the U.S. have actively tracked web user data.1 A recent study shows that quite a bit of this data was sold to major tech companies.2 Purchasers included Alphabet and Meta—in addition to countless private equity firms and other large corporations. A HIPAA violation? Unfortunately, no.

Granted, your addiction treatment center is not a hospital, but these fellow healthcare providers breached patient trust in unspeakable ways. Your center should have a goal of building trust with patients during every interaction, especially on your website. While laws are sometimes updated to catch up to technology and enhance website privacy, many misconceptions (and loopholes) still exist around data privacy and security. Understanding those myths is the first step to providing your patients with a safe, private browsing experience. 

Three Online Privacy Myths to Know

There are many schools of thought regarding what online security is and isn’t. What’s legal, what’s protected, and what does all this mean for your addiction treatment center? You need to safeguard the information of your patients and leads, but how? Start by learning the truth about the many misconceptions surrounding this hot-button issue.

1. Privacy and Security is Only Relevant for eCommerce

You don’t sell anything on your addiction treatment website. There are no credit card terminals or sharing of sensitive financial information. So why does website privacy matter for your addiction treatment center? Because online security is about much more than finances.

When leads and patients explore your website, they create data whether they realize it or not. Their IP address and associated information, as well as navigation and browsing data, are all interacting behind the scenes. These bits of information work together to paint a picture of every website visitor.

Users also give you their personal data through contact forms. Phone numbers, email addresses, and demographic data are important for your marketing. But in the wrong hands, this data can compromise your leads’ online security. 

For website owners, user data is invaluable. Unfortunately, bad actors agree. There are plenty of ways to abuse the information your leads give you when using your site. Your job is to ensure their privacy remains protected. 

2. Security Doesn’t Affect Decision-Making

Internet users are developing an acute awareness of online security—and for good reason. In 2022, 1,802 U.S. data breaches impacted more than 422 million Americans.3 The next breach is a question of when, not if.

Your leads and patients want to visit your website with confidence. They want to know you care enough to help them not only in the real world but in the digital one as well. They’re more likely to work with your addiction treatment center when you put their minds at ease.

Google recently found that positive privacy experiences were enough to sway 49% of people when deciding which business to patronize.4 The same logic also applies to healthcare decisions, perhaps even more so.

3. Privacy and Digital Marketing Don’t Intersect

Online security and your digital marketing plan may seem completely unrelated, but the latest research challenges this notion. There has to be more to your website than a good design, engaging content, and great security. Google wanted to learn how security impacts user perceptions, so they asked a few random advertisers to begin:

  • Asking visitors to consent before personalizing a website
  • Asking visitors how (and how often) they wished to be reminded about their security settings
  • Sending visitors a privacy digest email

The results are stunning.5 Not only did users appreciate having more control over their data, but the knowledge also improved their opinion of the advertiser. This resulted in an 11% increase in trust, an 18% increase in positive responses to ads, and an 11% increase in believing ads were relevant.

Great things happen when your leads know they have autonomy over how their information is used. They become more trusting and willing to view marketing favorably when they might not have in the past. For addiction treatment, trust is everything. When you respect the privacy and online security of your users, earning that trust is far easier. 

Need help with privacy and security on your addiction treatment website? Dreamscape Marketing can help. Call us at 888.307.7304 to schedule a strategy session and learn more about our full suite of addiction treatment digital marketing services.


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