Geofencing technology creates an electric fence surrounding a specific location or area online. Getting in the invisible boundaries triggers sending of push notifications to the mobile. Retailers are using this technology and Google is also using the same technology to alert the users on the basis of their location. A digital marketing firm is using this technology to help the law firm to get its leads. Thus there is set up of geofencing technology in the healthcare establishments especially the health firms. Thereby anyone entering the ER s bound to get a push notification on his mobile related to the legal services, therefore we need to consider that are the HIPAA security policies being violated here.
The law firms wanted to check on this marketing strategy, thus they could target the people in emergency room who had suffered a personal injury. Advertisements regarding personal injury claim service are allowed to the patients up to 30 days after the visit to the ER. A small number of patients are going to have legitimate claim but it a good way to look for the would be client.
It is good way to get business but it is most definitely intrusion in the private space and thus there is risk to HIPAA compliance. Healthcare companies, health plans, business associates of covered entities also need to follow the HIPAA rules to get the HIPAA certification. Lawyers are not the part of these entities and thereby they are not affected by the HIPAA rules. Another aspect to be considered is that lawyers are accessing the personal health information( PHI). The information that they are receiving is just limited to the fact that one individual went in to the medical facility or the ER.
Therefore it can be safely committed that HIPAA rules are not violated here but the state laws or the federal laws may have been violated in this situation. There have been instances where geofencing has been used in methadone clinics and reproductive health centers. Adverts like “Pregnancy help “ or you are not alone” were targeted on women who were visiting these facilities for options like adoption institutions and support groups who were offering counseling for pregnancy. There have been instances where a suit has been filed against the advertising agency for intruding in ones private space and breaking state consumer protection regulations. In such cases there has been situations were the adverts have been not penalized for employing the geofencing technology in few of the states and in healthcare facilities to grant health conditions or the status of their medical conditions. Although the cases have been registered as harassment under the digital rules.
From the above it is clear there is breaking of state laws by the using of geofencing technology, thus the government bodies need to intervene as there is involvement of healthcare facilities. The HIPAA rules do not directly deal with it but the state laws can deal with it.