Do disease management, health promotion, preventive care, and wellness programs fall under the HIPAA Privacy Rule's definition of "marketing"?
Generally, no. To the extent the disease management or wellness program is operated by the covered entitydirectly or by a business associate, communications about such programs are not marketing because they are about the covered entity’s own health-related services. So, for example, a hospital’s Wellness Department could start a weight-loss program and send a flyer to all patients seen in the hospital over the past year who meet the definition of obese, even if those individuals were not specifically seen for obesity when they were in the hospital.
Moreover, a communication that merely promotes health in a general manner and does not promote a specific product or service from a particular provider does not meet the definition of “marketing.” Such communications may include population-based activities in the areas of health education or disease prevention. Examples of general health promotional material include:
- mailings reminding women to get an annual mammogram;
- mailings providing information about how to lower cholesterol, new developments in health care (e.g., new diagnostic tools),
- support groups,
- organ donation,
- cancer prevention, and
- health fairs.