Social media is a powerful tool for communication and information sharing. However, like all technology, it can pose risks if used inappropriately or not managed effectively. Healthcare organizations, providers, and employees should be aware of these risks and implement strategies to mitigate them barder.
Social Media Use as a Health Care Professional
A growing number of medical professionals are using social media to communicate with patients and share news about their practice. It can be a useful way to engage with patients, share educational content and research, advertise services, and enhance visibility and reputation jigaboo.
It can also help physicians connect with other medical professionals. This can be beneficial, but it should not be used to disseminate inaccurate or false information, or to promote products and services without patient consent.
Physicians are often concerned that sharing their opinions, photos or other social media activity may negatively affect their professional reputation. They also want to avoid posting content that is in violation of professional medical association guidelines or state and federal laws distresses.
Inappropriate Use of Social Media and the Risks to Patient Information
Inappropriate use of social media by health care professionals can negatively impact patient safety, clinical outcomes, and physician credibility. In addition, such actions can result in disciplinary action by professional societies and boards as well as dismissal or suspension from their employers precipitous.
Taking the time to develop and enforce policies and procedures on how to use social media and how to protect the confidentiality of patient information is critical. These policies and procedures should include specific guidelines addressing both personal and professional use of social media.
When developing a policy, organizations should ensure that staff members are fully educated on how to use social media to protect patient confidentiality and privacy. This should begin with new employee orientation and continue with regular reminders of appropriate use and the consequences of inappropriate behavior mypba.
A good policy will require staff members to get patient authorization before using social media to share protected health information. The process for obtaining authorization must be documented, so that there is no misinterpretation of consent by employees who may be unaware of the requirements or the potential risks associated with sharing PHI on social media.
Limiting the use of patient-specific images and videos on social media can reduce the risk of inadvertent disclosures of identifiable patient information or a breach of HIPAA. Some organizations have found it helpful to create a template for posting patient-specific images and videos on social media. These templates can be shared with other staff members and can be used as a guide to creating posts that comply with the law.
Moderate Comments and Content
Some healthcare organizations have taken a step further to moderate social media posts and comments, which can help prevent the inadvertent disclosure of private information or a breach of HIPAA. While this can be an expensive option, it is worth the investment in terms of patient safety and maintaining your practice’s professional image.