Social Media and Privacy

By Carl Turner (@leftyrightbrain)

Pharma leaders are coming together at Digital Pharma West for an exciting exchange of innovative ideas in digital communication, especially in a heavily regulated industry. Whether social media is new territory or you are already executing a strategic multichannel communication plan, privacy is more important than ever.

Consider Zuckerbergs Law: Back in 2008, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg observed that people will share twice as much data as they did the year before and will share twice as much the year after that. Now that more physicians and patients are participating in social networks and private communities, data is everywhere.

Given that state of things, it seems obvious to have a compliance plan for information in the electronic health system and digital patient records. But have you thought about a plan that addresses the issue of privacy in a social world?

Staff, medical professionals and physicians are leaving their digital footprint when they post medical encounters, give basic medical advice or talk about their work on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and other social networks. They may even be conversing with patients or giving feedback about a colleague.

Social media is fantastic for improving collaboration and helping patients reach out to each other and the medical community. But its also too dangerous to take a Wild West approach. If you dont already have a formal social media policy, you need one to protect your staff and patient privacy, and it should be included in your employee handbook. When in an electronic format, it can be easily updated and shared.

A social media policy that guides health care professionals in how to interact on social networks – and what to do and what not to do – ensures compliance with privacy laws. Employees talk about work even doctors. They need to think about doctor-patient confidentiality in their online interactions and communicate in appropriate ways. For example, when talking about a patient, even if not called out by name, they may reveal details that identify the patient, a clear violation of HIPAA, and be subject to penalties and reputation damage.

This is a new area for many of us; protecting privacy needs to remain at the heart of health care. Responsible use of social media should be everyones priority. Join us at Digital Pharma West to learn best practices in navigating social media and how to use it without jeopardizing patient privacy.

Pixels and Pills will be there covering the event from start to finish. Join us in staying on the cutting-edge of digital technology. We hope to see you there!

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