Your office staff may not be aware that 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. Practitioners 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.
Don’t mix personal and professional. Practitioners who want a personal presence on social media shouldn’t use their 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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