OSHA & HIPAA Compliance Made Easy
OSHA & HIPAA Compliance Made Easy
With 25+ years of OSHA experience and one of the nation's only Certified HIPAA Professionals, Smart Training makes compliance not only manageable but easy! We want to address your concerns, so comment and have your questions answered by the experts!
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How To Protect Patient Data Part 2: Social Media Posts

How To Protect Patient Data Part 2: Social Media Posts

9/14/2017 7:48:22 AM   |   Comments: 0   |   Views: 86
By responding to a patient review on social media recently, a Texas dentist found himself in hot water with HHS and the Office for Civil Rights.  While the dentist wasn’t fined for misusing patient information, he did have to spend money for specialized legal counsel, and likely spent many sleepless nights worried about the consequences of this unintentional breach.

While dentists have a unique perspective on topics that interest patients, the demand for this information must be balanced with how information is used, who may access it, and who else it can affect. Social media opens the doors to all sorts of HIPAA violations.  Take some commonsense precautions with postings:

 If you wouldn’t say it in your waiting room, don’t say it online.  Read social media content aloud before you post it.  If there’s information you wouldn’t be comfortable announcing to patients, it probably doesn’t belong on social media.
 
Use caution when replying to comments on review sites and in real-time venues like Twitter.  Immediate responses aren’t required, and it’s often better to let some time go by before you reply.   Don’t use the patient’s name or specific treatment information … even if the patient’s original post identifies him or her.  Dentists do not have the right to defend themselves against negative reviews … especially if the defense runs afoul of privacy laws.
 
Don’t discuss patients online, even in general terms.  Social media makes connecting the dots very easy.  Even if you don’t mention your patient’s name, other readers can often identify the individual you’re describing.  This is, incidentally, also the reason we encourage clients to report every data breach … affected patients can easily find others online and trace the breach back to your office.
 
Don’t mix personal and professional.  If you want a personal presence on social media, don’t use your practice page for that sort of interaction.
 
Assume anything you say online is public information.  There’s no expiration date on internet content, and anything you post today may well be accessible a decade from now.

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