Social media presents a double-edged sword for physician practices. As with many businesses, social media can be an effective platform for self-promotion and for creating relationships with customers. However, when addressing use of social media and social media policies, physician practices face specific problems that many other businesses do not, including HIPAA compliance concerns, avoiding improperly establishing a physician/patient relationship through online interactions, managing their business’ reputation, and developing effective and appropriate social media use policies for their own employees.
This presentation explores the risks involved in navigating HIPAA compliance in a social media setting, including discussions of how improper disclosures can occur on social media, how such disclosures can rise to the level of a breach, and how physician practices should attempt to meet their HIPAA requirements online.
The presentation also discusses how to avoid incurring medical malpractice liability in the course of communicating over social media, both in terms of communications with established patients, and with regards to avoiding the imposition of a "duty of care" by establishing a physician/patient relationship based on social media interactions with individuals who are not yet patients.
With the proliferation of online ratings and patient feedback sites, physicians and physician practices must be careful in managing their online reputations. With this in mind, the presentation discusses the risks involved in interactions on review sites, and addresses how best to respond to negative reviews.
To effectively mitigate these risks, physician practices need to establish clear policies to govern the actions of their employees in regards to social media, and to address these risks. However, doing so requires careful drafting, with an eye towards compliance with National Labor Review Board (NLRB) guidelines. Towards this end, the presentation discusses the NLRB guidelines and how to craft around them, and offers practical tips in how to train employees with regards to social media usage relating to their work.
Why should you Attend: As attractive as a social media presence may seem for marketing purposes, physicia practices must be careful in how they approach social media. Even if a physician practice opts not to have a social media presence, they will still need to cract policies and procedures for managing the social media activity of their employees and contractors. While many physician practices have a good understanding of how to address HIPAA requirements in an office setting, they may be less prepared to deal with the ways in which patient protected health information may be improperly disclosed or used in a social media setting.
Physician practices face further risk with respect to medical malpractice risk arising from communication over social media, both with respect to established patients, and in terms of avoiding accidentally creating a duty of care by establishing a physician/patient relationship through social media interactions. In this era of customer-written ratings websites, physician practices must also manage their reputation online, while navigating the restrictions of HIPAA and avoiding malpractice liability. Lastly, while proactive practices may opt to create strong social media policies to govern their employees’ behavior online, they may unwittingly overstep their bounds, as determined by Federal labor laws.
Areas Covered in the Session: