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Posts Tagged ‘HIPAA email’

Infrastructure Requirements for Marketing and Transactional Email

Tuesday, June 14th, 2022

To design an appropriate email infrastructure, organizations must understand the types of emails they plan to send. Outside of regular business communications between colleagues, marketing and transactional emails are used to communicate externally with clients and customers. Although they are often lumped together, transactional and marketing emails serve different purposes and require different hardware configurations to successfully send emails with good deliverability.

marketing and transactional email

What are Marketing Emails?

Marketing emails primarily contain content intended for a commercial purpose, like advertisements, promotions, or other marketing messages. Marketing emails are sent to groups of contacts that are prospects or customers to influence them to make a purchase or take a commercial action.

Some examples of marketing emails include:

  • Customer newsletters
  • Promotional offers
  • Event invitations
  • Other types of sales communications

One significant difference between marketing and transactional emails is that recipients must explicitly opt-in to receive marketing emails. It is against CAN-SPAM rules to send unsolicited marketing emails to people who have not consented to receive them. The penalties for non-compliance can be quite severe. Always allow individuals to opt out of marketing emails to stay compliant.

What are Transactional Emails?

Transactional emails are messages that relate to previous interactions or commercial relationships with a company. Users trigger email sending by taking specific actions, and the emails contain only information that is critical and relevant to the recipient.

Examples of transactional emails include:

  • Transaction receipts
  • Order updates and shipping notifications
  • Password resets and security notifications
  • Appointment reminders
  • Review requests

Transactional emails facilitate an already agreed-upon transaction or update a customer about an ongoing transaction. Transactional messages are exempt from most provisions of the CAN-SPAM Act, and recipients do not have to opt in to receive emails. For example, when someone orders a pair of sneakers online, the company does not need permission to email them when the order ships out.

How do I know if an email is a transactional or marketing message?

The email content determines whether a message is transactional or marketing. Some emails can contain both messages. We recommend asking three questions to ensure compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act:

  1. What is the primary purpose of the message?
  2. Whom is the message sent to?
  3. Is the content misleading or deceptive?

First, what is the primary reason for sending the message? If the purpose is to remind a client of their upcoming appointment, that should be evident. Organizations can include a marketing message (perhaps offering them a coupon to use on additional services at their appointment). Still, the subject line and main message should emphasize the upcoming appointment.

Secondly, is there an existing relationship between the organization and the recipient? Did the recipient willingly join a mailing list? Or purchase a product from the company? The answer, in combination with the purpose of the email, will identify what type of mailing this is.

Finally, do not try and launder marketing messages as transactional emails. Sending an email with a misleading subject line like “Your Order Status” containing little to no information about a recent order is not permitted by CAN-SPAM.

Infrastructure Requirements

Most organizations need to send both types of email. The email sending requirements for sending bulk marketing emails differ from transactional emails. Marketing emails are one message sent in bulk to a large list of recipients. For example, a list of previous customers is sent an email promotion announcing a sale on sandals. Sending one email to thousands of recipients at the same time requires different memory and CPU than messages sent on a one-to-one basis. It typically does not matter if the sandal promotion reaches the recipient’s inbox at 10:00 am or 10:15 am. The message contents are not seriously time-sensitive. In the case of a marketing email, sending volume is more important than sending speed.

On the contrary, transactional emails are sent on a one-to-one basis and can be highly time-sensitive. Emails like password resets and order confirmations must arrive in the recipient’s inbox immediately after submission. This requires a different server configuration from marketing emails because speed is more important than sending volume. Designing different server configurations for marketing and transactional email is highly recommended to achieve sending goals.

At LuxSci, we design custom server configurations to meet the volume and throughput requirements for organizations of any size.

HIPAA Requirements

Both marketing and transactional emails could fall under HIPAA regulations. Any communications that imply a relationship between a healthcare provider and a patient should be encrypted and follow HIPAA requirements. LuxSci provides both a Secure Email Marketing platform and Secure High Volume Email services to support the emailing requirements for HIPAA covered entities and their associates.

Contact LuxSci today to learn more about configuring an email infrastructure to support high volumes of marketing and transactional emails.

Is Email Archival Required by HIPAA?

Tuesday, April 5th, 2022

Customers often inquire if email archival is required by HIPAA regulations.

There is a great deal of confusion and uncertainty here because:

  1. HIPAA lists many requirements, but does not provide specific instructions on how to implement them. It’s ambiguous, but provides a great deal of flexibility for organizations.
  2. Email archival adds a fixed cost to any email solution – and everyone prefers to avoid unnecessary costs.
  3. Many organizations want to do the minimum needed for compliance due to time and budgetary constraints.

email archival hipaa

In our opinion, email archival is an implicit requirement of HIPAA for all organizations that send ePHI via email. In the next section, we’ll review why.

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What Are Your Goals for Sending HIPAA-Compliant Emails?

Wednesday, October 7th, 2020

…and how Do They Influence Which Provider You Choose?

So, you’ve heard that you need to send HIPAA-compliant emails. Maybe your company is only just starting to send ePHI in its messages. Perhaps it just wants to be extra careful, and limit the potential repercussions if ePHI is accidentally sent in an email. It could have even been skirting HIPAA regulations all along, and has suddenly realized the error of its ways.

Whatever led you up to this point, you are doing the right thing by looking for a HIPAA-compliant email provider. But the regulations and the services that have been developed to abide by them can be complex, so it’s important to do your research and carefully think through your decision.

hipaa compliant email sending

Secure email sending

On top of making sure that a potential service meets your compliance and security needs, you also need to consider the goals of your HIPAA-compliant email sending. Obviously, we can’t tell you what your goals are, but we can give you some suggestions that will help you refine them.

Are You Intending to Send ePHI, or Do You Just Want a HIPAA-Compliant Service to Be Careful?

Some organizations may want to directly email ePHI to their patients, so they need to focus on how they can do this effectively, while keeping both their patients and their businesses safe. For example, a doctor’s clinic may want to offer to send out test results via email.

Due to the high risk of exposing this information, it will probably want to opt-out encryption, rather than opt-in. Measures like this can significantly reduce the chances of accidentally sending out unprotected ePHI.

In contrast, other companies may only want to send ePHI on rare occasions, so they may find opt-in encryption more convenient. The point is that every organization has its own set of requirements, and they need to find a suitable email service for their individual circumstances.

Some will want a service that is tightly locked down to limit their risks, while others May have a high risk tolerance.

Do You Plan on Using It as Your Everyday Email Service, or for High Volume Messaging?

If you just want a HIPAA-compliant email service for everyday use, something like LuxSci’s Secure Email is a great option. Alternatively, if your main goal is to send out emails in bulk, you will need something like our Secure High Volume Sending.

Do You Want to Send Transactional Messages, Marketing Emails, or Both?

As obvious as it seems, marketing emails are messages that are mainly sent out for marketing purposes. These include newsletters and product updates. On the other hand, transactional emails are those that are essential for customer interactions with the company. Many different things qualify as transactional emails, from onboarding messages, to password resets, to receipts, and much more.

Savvy companies don’t just see transactional emails as a bland part of conducting business. Instead, they use them as opportunities to add in a little marketing for their products, services, or simply overall brand awareness.

Before you make your decision on an email platform, you should consider how you want to use the service, and which solutions cater best to those needs.

Do You Have an In-House Graphic Designer, or Do You Need Intuitive & Professional-Looking Templates?

If your company has its own graphic designer, or the budget to outsource it, then it may not need beautiful email templates. Not every organization has those resources on hand, and many just want something that looks good without having to put in a lot of effort. Your company’s current setup and goals will influence whether you look for a HIPAA-compliant email provider that offers these ready-made templates.

Do You Need Analytics that Help You Measure the Effectiveness of Your Campaigns?

If your goal is to have the most effective campaign possible, then you need to measure everything. Of course, this is only possible with a marketing service that has a comprehensive analytics platform. LuxSci’s Secure Marketing solution offers A/B testing, which allows you to compare two different approaches to see which is best.

It also features a range of reports that tell you who opened emails, what they clicked on, the bounce rate, whether messages were marked as spam, and much more. If you need this type of in-depth knowledge in your email campaigns, it will be an important factor in which email service you ultimately end up choosing.

LuxSci’s HIPAA-compliant email services aim to combine the functional features you need for high performance, alongside the security mechanisms required to stay within the regulations. Together, these provide adaptable services for those in the healthcare sector and for other businesses that deal with ePHI.

What is Willful Neglect Under HIPAA?

Thursday, March 7th, 2019

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), spells out rules for the privacy and protection of health information. The HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules establish standards for implementing physical, administrative, and technical safeguards to ensure that Protected Health Information (PHI) is handled with the utmost confidentiality and integrity.

The failure to adhere to the regulations established under HIPAA can lead to criminal and civil penalties, followed by progressive disciplinary actions. These penalties apply to healthcare entities, as well as individuals.

The reckless or intentional failure to comply with the rules set forward under HIPAA is called “Willful Neglect.” Violations, as a result of willful neglect, can carry severe penalties, civil or criminal depending on the exact facts of the case.

Case in point

In early 2011, the HHS (The Department of Health and Human Services) levied a fine of $4.3 million on an entity named Cignet Health Center for willful neglect. What’s unique about this case is that the entity was not fined for breach of privacy.

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