Platform dive: Three HIPAA-compliant alternatives to Google Analytics

Updated on December 26, 2023

Hospitals, health systems and medical practices are increasingly aware that Google Analytics (GA) does not satisfy HIPAA requirements. The reason? The US Department of Health and Human Services released guidance that brings IP addresses under the umbrella of protected health information (PHI). Still, many organizations are proceeding with daily business tasks unchanged, a situation that can feel like you’re on a runaway train with no one at the throttle.

Fortunately, the technology industry has been fast in answering the call for greater privacy and security in analytics data. In fact, there now exists many viable options for HIPAA-compliant analytics platforms – each holding pros and cons – at a range of prices and varying degrees of implementation complexity. 

That said, our team extensively researched which of these platforms are the best alternative to GA. After whittling down a long list of those technologies that showed the most promise, we demoed each platform, arriving at three standouts. The following is a brief overview of these top performers – solutions we now recommend to our clients.

Putting some Freshpaint on GA

If you’re just not up for completely cutting the GA4 chord, adding Freshpaint could be your answer. This analytics and customer data platform lets you still use GA, just in a more HIPAA-compliant manner. You configure event tracking in Freshpaint, it collects the data, then IP Masking and PHI Guard cover anything PHI-related. From there, data can be used in GA, where trackable events can be set up in Freshpaint via your existing Google Tag Manager (GTM) account.

Freshpaint integrates with many platforms, enabling ad tracking to be streamlined and HIPAA-compliant data to be forwarded to your social media platforms. While implementation can get complex, Freshpaint provides assistance, though integration with third-party tools costs extra. Overall, Freshpaint’s price is roughly double Piwik, another promising platform for consideration. 

The robustness of Piwik Pro

Piwik is a comprehensive HIPAA-compliant analytics platform, complete with an embedded tag management module. Its robust features include an interface that delivers the same data metrics and reporting you’ll find in GA. A user-friendly approach offers standard and custom reports and dashboards. What’s more, implementation and tag setup are similar to GTM and work in tandem with Piwik’s integrated Tag Manager. Further, the platform includes heatmapping and integrates with Looker Studio, Google Search Console and Google Ads. 

On the downside, you’ll have to set up more than a few custom dashboards and reports in order to view the data as you would with standard GA reports. The interface also doesn’t quite measure up to GA or work with existing GTM container tags, so you’ll need to set up tags with Piwik Pro’s tag manager. 

A Heap of features

This HIPAA-compliant platform can entirely replace GA. It includes many of the same features as Piwik but has an additional data science layer. This allows marketers to better understand user behavior through capabilities like session playback. For those seeking a more holistic image of how sites are used, add-ons like Illuminate can identify friction points and opportunities for continuous improvement. Journey maps, which visualize actual user flows provide a more holistic view of site usage versus standard moment-in-time analytics. 

Setting up Heap is more complex than other platforms, and user training is recommended to get the most out of its many features. When it comes to costs, Heap is roughly twice the price of Piwik, though tiered solutions are available based on traffic volume. 

Finding what’s best for you

These are just three of the many GA alternatives out there. Keep in mind numerous drivers can help you identify the solution that’s right for you. When considering options, it is essential to remember to consider factors such as an organization’s skill set, team size, reporting needs and budget. With these in mind, you might find the best answer for your specific needs among the many other platforms on the market. If you need guidance, consider enlisting an agency partner with proven expertise in the area to find a match that’ll work best for you.

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Christy Jones
Director of Marketing and Operations at Reason One

Christy Jones is Director of Marketing and Operations for Reason One, overseeing all elements of digital marketing and website optimization for the agency. Part data scientist and part data storyteller, Christy is passionate about data and the insights they provide, and how to capitalize on those insights to improve performance and KPIs.She has a proven ability to optimize multi-channel and full-funnel strategies to achieve maximum ROI.