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This content comes from Conomikes Associates Inc., a resource on practice management tips for community physicians, practice managers and medical office staff for more than 20 years.
In a recent article, Todd McDonagh, COO of MedSafe/Total Compliance Solutions discussed 10 steps that health care providers can take to ensure HIPAA compliance when using social media.
- Set up different accounts for communicating with friends and family and use different passwords to help differentiate the accounts.
- Understand the nature of the social media platforms — they were created to help people connect with one another, broadcast their ideas, and create stores of personal information online.
- Understand the platform you are using and how it works. For example, understanding the difference between using the “@” symbol and a direct message on Twitter could prevent the wrong information from getting into the wrong hands.
- Periodically check your privacy settings, preferably once a week, as they can change.
- Never refer to a patient by name and be sure to not give out any information that could identify the patient.
- When referencing particular cases, conditions or treatments, be as general as possible and do not describe specific demographics or populations that can be identified.
- Never “friend” patients on Facebook, as this could lead to serious ethical issues, and consequently a violation of HIPAA.
- Never post anything that you would be uncomfortable reading re-printed in the newspaper.
- Take time to reflect on an email or tweet before sending it because more often than not, responses online are immediate.
- Be careful about your tone, as written words can easily be misconstrued.
Source: American Association of Orthopaedic Executives.