As technology continues to evolve, so does social media, with more and more platforms arising for people to communicate – anytime, anyplace to anyone. The increase in social media presence in healthcare creates greater vulnerability toward breaches of patient confidentiality. Here are some tips to avoid violating HIPAA with social media:
- Do not talk about patients online, even in general terms. Simply avoiding using a patient’s name is not enough. Identifiable factors, such as patient age and medical condition should also be avoided. Talking about disease conditions, treatment options, and research is okay. Talking about specific patients with these disease conditions is not okay.
- Do not blog anonymously. Being anonymous gives people a false sense of power, making them feel they can say whatever they want without consequence.
- If you would not say it in a crowded elevator, do not post it online.
- Have a friend check your posts before you share them. What might be funny to you may not come off as funny to others. A fresh set of eyes can help assess whether or not you are heading down a slippery slope.
- Keep your personal and professional lives separate. Do not friend request patients from your personal accounts. Have your posts set so that only friends can view them. Check your privacy settings monthly, as they can change.