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Data Privacy – Making Everybody Happy

We just updated our Privacy Policy. In the process of doing so, we reflected long and hard about our stakeholders – the vet practices, the suppliers who pay us, the pet owners, and others – and what their needs are. We believe we perfected a policy that meets all needs and maintains strict privacy controls to the benefit of everyone.

But this was not without a lot of drafts and discussion… and even a little sacrifice.

We want to provide everything to everyone so that all stakeholders get the best results across the board. But leaning too far in one direction comes at a cost for someone else. For example, if we gave practice-specific sales data to a supplier about a product, the sales rep for the supplier could hound the practice: “You’re selling more of our competitor’s stuff than ours!” The practices would shut us

down very quickly, and would be justified to do so.

Why fuss over privacy when pet health is not covered by HIPAA or similar laws?

Short answer: It doesn’t matter what the laws do or don’t cover. Perception is reality. Pet owners rightfully expect vet practices to keep their personally identifiable information (PII) secure. They also expect – right, wrong or indifferent – that their pets’ medical records will be kept private. As described above, practices don’t want to divulge too much identifiable data to their suppliers or distributors. And suppliers naturally don’t want their market share data broadcast to competitors.

Focusing on business results

What we learned from our quest to please all parties is that when it comes to data privacy, the best approach is to prioritize business goals and focus on how to accomplish them with the most minimal disclosure. Sure, there are all kinds of opportunities to tell stories from massive amounts of data and turn them into productive exercises. But not by forsaking the trust and relationships with the stakeholders. There’s almost always a way to find a solution – if the end goals are defined.

Incidentally, as part of our work on this we created a list of practical examples that show how our privacy policy works. These examples not only make the policy easier to understand for our stakeholders, they also helped us ensure our policies allowed us to accomplish the business goals we



About Pet Cause Media

Headquartered in Central Massachusetts, Pet Cause Media is the national leader for improving veterinary practice outcomes using data. Smart Outcomes™ is a portfolio of integrated client outreach technologies for veterinary offices that focus on just-in-time messaging. Veterinary staff are made aware of products, procedures and best practices to discuss with management, trainers and product reps. Pet owners, while in a “pet frame of mind”, are presented with contextually-relevant information to discuss with veterinary staff. Benefits include increased compliance, improved pet health outcomes, and elevated practice revenues. Visit for more details. Follow Pet Cause Media on Facebook and Twitter.

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