Social Media and Healthcare Best Friends or Worst Enemies
Gallagher Healthcare :: Industry InsightsBy Gallagher Healthcare | 1/17/2014
Social media isn’t just a fad. Facebook is a $100 billion company with 1.1 billion users, LinkedIn has over 200 million users throughout 200 countries, Twitter has successfully filed its initial public offering, and Google is one of the most valuable and powerful companies on the planet. The social media revolution has affected every industry, yet it poses unique challenges for the healthcare sector.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”) places a strong emphasis on the protection of individually identifiable patient information. The omnipresence of social media in the workplace can make protecting this information extremely difficult for healthcare providers. The growing use of mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, has made it virtually impossible for employers to monitor their employees’ social media use while working. This challenge poses significant problems for HIPAA compliance and complicates public relations and employment law matters. However, some healthcare providers have embraced social media and use it to connect with their patients and communities, encourage preventive care, and create online support groups and communities. This paper discusses the need for healthcare employers to educate and embrace the use of social media by creating a comprehensive social media policy and educating their employees on the best uses of this powerful tool.