Every business uses acronyms that many people outside of the industry may not understand. If you work in or with that specific industry, though, it is very important that you understand the terminology.

For marketers, acronyms like ROI or CTR are probably second nature. Often though, knowing the acronyms common to the industries you work with is just as important and can be harder to wrap your head around.

In the world of healthcare marketing, you need to know an incredible number of healthcare acronyms to understand and speak to your target market. To help healthcare marketers better connect with your audience, here are eight acronyms to know if you want to work in healthcare marketing.


The Affordable Care Act of 2010, sometimes also referred to as the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (PPACA) or “Obamacare,” is legislation that overhauled the federal healthcare system to increase health insurance coverage, reduce healthcare costs, and improve care.

While the ACA has been changed some in the last decade and is expected to change even more in the coming years, the framework is still the law of the land in 2021. Healthcare marketers should understand the provisions of this act and how they present themselves, especially in the relationship between providers, insurance companies, and government healthcare programs like Medicare and Medicaid.


This is an acronym that has a double meaning in the world of healthcare. It can stand for both Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Medical Officer. Regardless of which position it is referring to, the position will be an important target for healthcare marketers, albeit in very different ways.

Marketing execs will be the target when looking to enlist help within an organization for the marketing of a product or service. Medical officers, who are responsible for managing medical staff, creating medical policy, and adhering to regulations will often be the target audience to engage as the primary medical product decision-maker within an organization.


Electronic health records (EHR) is any record of a patient’s healthcare that resides in an electronic state such as on a computer, online, or in the cloud. It is a digitized version of the information you would generally find on a patient’s paper medical chart.

Healthcare businesses of all types are increasingly transferring paper records to EHR because of all the benefits EHR provides such as easier access, more portability, and, in many cases, more security. Healthcare marketers will find that the compatibility of healthcare products with EHR is becoming increasingly important.


The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is a federal law that speaks to how providers and other healthcare industry companies must handle the privacy, security, and electronic transmission of personally identifiable, sensitive healthcare information.

Any healthcare product that creates or manages personally identifiable data about patients must strictly adhere to HIPAA regulations. Any healthcare company that runs afoul of these laws faces fines that range from hundreds to millions of dollars and could even face criminal prosecution and jail time for individual violators.


Software as a Medical Device (SaMD) is a category of digital healthcare technology where software acts as a medical device on its own, independent of other medical devices. Orthogonal explains in more detail here what exactly defines SaMD as a category.

Examples of SaMD include technology such as apps that help people calculate drug dosage based on personal factors or software that accesses a device’s camera or microphone to monitor some aspect of a patient’s health. SaMD is a rapidly growing sector of healthcare that marketers are increasingly creating content and campaigns around.


Socio-demographic status (SDS) is the term the healthcare industry uses to label the sociological, economic, demographic, and other factors that play a role in a person or a population’s health. It can include factors like income, lifestyle, nutrition, and race.

Understanding SDS is a key in population health where the medical world looks at the issues facing specific populations and tries to create better outcomes for these specific populations. As certain healthcare products address certain issues, knowing the SDS that an organization deals with can be helpful in marketing these organizations.


The Transforming Clinical Practices Initiative (TCPI) is a four-year initiative launched in 2015 that was part of the ACA (see above). The goal of the programs was, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service (CMS), “to provide technical assistance to more than 140,000 clinicians (both primary and specialty care) over a four-year period in sharing, adapting, and further developing their comprehensive quality improvement strategies.”

While the program, as specified in the ACA, has officially concluded, the TCPI has transformed many healthcare organizations from old-school, pen, and paper operations to technologically advanced providers. This fundamentally changes the ways and the products that marketers can use to reach out to organizations.


An acronym for either value-based payment or value-based purchasing, the concept of VBP in healthcare refers to a pay-for-performance system of provider reimbursement. In simple terms, this is a newer system within the Medicare payment process where providers will be reimbursed at a higher rate for better performance in select areas.

This can be a key benefit that medical products can offer certain organizations from a marketing perspective. If a provider is evaluated on a VBP scale, investing in a certain product may pay for itself by leading to better performance and, in turn, higher reimbursements.


Healthcare marketers must pull double duty when it comes to acronyms. Not only must they understand and use common marketing acronyms but, when dealing with their clients and their target audience, using jargon specific to healthcare is also important. With this guide, healthcare marketers can get to know some of the industry acronyms that directly affect marketing within the industry.

There are plenty of additional terms to know as well but this block is a good place to start. With a little more research, your marketing will soon sound like it comes directly from a medical professional instead of just a slick marketer.