GA4, or Google Analytics 4, is the latest version of Google’s web analytics platform. Effective July 1, 2023, the current version of GA (Universal Analytics) will sunset requiring everyone to use the latest and greatest from Google– except for the paid model of GA, 360. While GA4 has several benefits for healthcare marketers, there are also some potential concerns that have recently been raised. Keep in mind, most of those concerns would be similar with other well-known analytics programs, dramatically reducing the options (and data visibility) then available.
Data compatibility: One of the main concerns for healthcare marketers is that GA4 is not fully compatible with previous versions of Google Analytics. This means that if you switch to GA4, you may not be able to access all your historical data from the previous version. This can be a problem if you rely heavily on historical data for tracking performance and making decisions.
Learning curve: Another concern is that GA4 has a steeper learning curve than previous versions of Google Analytics. The new interface and features may take some time to get used to, which can be challenging for healthcare marketers who are already juggling multiple responsibilities.
Limited third-party integrations: Some healthcare marketers may also be concerned about the limited number of third-party integrations currently available in GA4. While Google is working to add more integrations, this can be a problem if you rely on other tools for marketing automation, CRM, or other functions.
Privacy regulations: Finally, healthcare marketers need to be aware of the potential privacy concerns associated with GA4. This has been a very hot topic within this vertical and causing a lot of confusion, as well as legal-driven decisions within healthcare systems on how to collect data and which platforms to use. This new platform collects more data than previous versions (including the current version Universal), which is causing concerns that it could potentially put an organization at risk of violating privacy regulations like HIPAA. Although its always best to consult with legal counsel, its also advantageous for marketers to collaborate with them so they better understand what data is or is not being tracked or collected. There is a lot of room for interpretation here and we see some organizations making a rash decision to eliminate the option to have robust web analytics data versus diving in with attorneys and analytics experts to research considerations and details further.
Alternatives: The team at MoreVisibility has done research to evaluate options beyond Google Analytics. While Adobe is often an alternative to Google for marketers in this area, given the details cited within the HHS OCR bulletin and concerns outlined above it may not be a viable option. Therefore, looking at some lesser-known tracking software or middleware is where we focused. The optimal solution will consider how risk adverse your health system is, budget available and a few other factors. Need help deciding? Let’s talk!
Overall, while there are some potential concerns to be aware of, GA4 offers several benefits for healthcare marketers, including improved data modeling, cross-device tracking, and more robust reporting capabilities. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons carefully and make an informed decision about whether Google Analytics (GA4) is right for your organization