Social media has been proved to be a powerful online tool for sharing information worldwide and now it is used as a tool for Internet marketing by various businesses. Social media has also been helpful to medical professionals in securing online recognition and popularity for their medical practice. If you are not monitoring social media properly for your medical business activities, your medical office staff or employees may use it for their personal purposes. Even small posts, shares, tweets or pins can lead to serious consequences if they are realized as clear violations of patient confidentiality.
Those who divulge patient information on the Internet are violating patient privacy laws such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and such violations can result not only in disciplinary action, but you can get fined up to $250,000 and even get a jail sentence. Some of the HIPAA breaches that happened recently are:
- Last year when an open-heart surgery was conducted in a Texas-based hospital, a cardiologist broadcast it live on Twitter.
- A nurse posted a picture and chart of a patient in his Facebook profile page because he thought there was no harm in doing it.
- The doctors of an Arizona – based medical center revealed to the social media sites information about the health status of a victim of a 2011 mass shooting, asking permission from her husband instead of asking her.
To avoid these violations that can tarnish the reputation of your medical establishment, here are some ways in which you can safely utilize social media.
- Avoid using names identifying information or demographics that help in identifying a patient in social media sites.
- Don’t use your mobile device to store protected health information (PHI).
- Create a separate social media account for “befriending” patients and for providing health information. Check your social media privacy settings at least once a month.
- If you have any concerns or doubts regarding using social media to promote your medical practice, you can contact an attorney who is proficient in HIPAA.
To promote your medical practice online, you can utilize medical SEO services provided by a reliable SEO company. The company can offer you a wide range of medical SEO services that are compliant with HIPAA regulations.