The problem with using HubSpot for HIPAA compliant marketing

HIPAA compliance sketch showing complex regulations for email marketing

Last week we had an interesting call with a dental practice in Boise, Idaho. The scope of the call was to learn more about a new product we recently launched, Paubox Marketing, our secure email marketing solution.

On the call, the owner mentioned using HubSpot in a roundabout way to send email marketing to his dental clients. Although his HubSpot account rep said it was ok to do, it was definitely not an ideal solution and the dental practice knew it.

By the end of the call, the owner became a Paubox Marketing customer.

This post is about why using solutions like HubSpot, which are not focused on addressing HIPAA compliant marketing, impose business risks to organizations that use them for such ends.

HubSpot and HIPAA

As we’ve covered before, HubSpot is a developer and marketer of software products for inbound marketing and sales. The company was founded by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah in 2006.

Under the HIPAA Privacy Rule regulations, a business associate is a person or organization that performs certain functions or activities that involve the use or disclosure of protected health information for a covered entity.

HubSpot and the business associate agreement

A business associate agreement (BAA) is a written contract between a covered entity and a business associate. It is required for HIPAA compliance. At a minimum, there are 10 provisions that must be covered by a BAA.

As our research discovered, HubSpot is simply not in the business of providing HIPAA Compliant Marketing services.

We can see for ourselves here on its Terms of Service page:


“You may not use the Subscription Service if you are legally prohibited from receiving or using the Subscription Service under the laws of the country in which you are resident or from which you access or use the Subscription Service. The Subscription Service is not designed to comply with industry-specific regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA), or the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), so you may not use the Subscription Service where your communications would be subject to such laws. “


HubSpot and HIPAA compliant email marketing

Last week’s call with the Idaho dental practice underscores a need in the market for HIPAA compliant email marketing.

Large companies like HubSpot are unwilling to take on the risk, burden, and overhead of HIPAA compliance. In addition, its email marketing solution is not built to send HIPAA compliant email in the first place.

The business risk of using HubSpot for HIPAA entities

In closing, what’s arguably the biggest reason for covered entities to avoid companies like HubSpot?

The valid threat of HIPAA fines.

If a BAA is not in place with a vendor that stores or handles PHI, that’s a recipe for a large HIPAA fine.

According to HIPAA, even just a name is PHI if it is in any way associated with a healthcare provider—such as in a marketing email coming from your practice.

Simply storing names and email addresses in a cloud marketing service like HubSpot can be interpreted as storing PHI in its cloud. And if the vendor will sign a BAA, it can leave an organization in an untenable position.

HIPAA email marketing tools comparison

To meet the unmet need for HIPAA compliant email marketing, we created Paubox Marketing. It is the only solution that will:

  • Sign a BAA
  • Provide military-grade encryption
  • Allow you to include PHI in your marketing emails
  • Allow patients to read your emails directly from their inbox with no extra steps

In addition, Paubox Marketing is HITRUST CSF certified.

Compared to the standard marketing tools, Paubox Marketing is the best option for maintaining HIPAA compliance while harnessing the power of personalized email marketing.

SEE ALSO: Why Paubox Marketing is the Best HIPAA Email Marketing Solution Available

Company Will they sign a BAA? Can you send PHI?
Adobe Campaign NO NO
Campaign Monitor NO NO
Campaigner NO NO
GetResponse NO NO
Hubspot NO NO
Mad Mimi (GoDaddy) NO NO
Mailchimp NO NO
MailerLite NO NO
Marketo (Adobe) NO NO
Salesforce Pardot NO NO
Schedulicity NO NO
SendGrid (Twilio) NO NO
Yesware NO NO
ActiveCampaign YES NO
Constant Contact YES NO
Infusionsoft by Keap YES NO
Salesforce Marketing Cloud YES NO
Eloqua (Oracle) YES YES **
Paubox Marketing YES YES

(** To use Oracle Eloqua in a HIPAA compliant manner, recipients receive two emails for every message you send. Patients must also log into a secure message center to view your message—it does not appear in their inboxes. This creates friction and makes it less likely that your patients will read your marketing email.)

Try Paubox Marketing for free and make your email marketing HIPAA compliant today.

About the author

Hoala Greevy

Founder CEO Paubox. Kayak fishing when I can.

Read more by Hoala Greevy

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