Last year, Facebook announced they have 2.01 billion monthly users. The daily percentage of users is less but is still an impressive 1.32 billion users that are actively using Facebook daily. What is a DO, and a DON'T that your organization should consider if using Facebook?
DO have a Facebook Page for your healthcare organization.
Over 50 million businesses are using Facebook pages. Your healthcare organization should not be afraid to have a social media presence on Facebook. Why have a social media page? There is a big difference between using Facebook for personal use or business use. Let's say patients love using social media and would like to connect on Facebook. Employees should direct them to the business page rather than a personal page. Your Facebook page can have users assigned to manage the page (assigned responsibility) and the page can be set up in such a way that it is beneficial for your practice, and not a platform for HIPAA violations (see below).
DON'T use or disclose protected health information (PHI).
Even when a patient shares a comment on Facebook or posts a review with details of their visit, your response should be general. Consider the following scenario:
A patient visits one of your providers. She is thrilled with her visit and wants to share her story on Facebook. She is aware of your healthcare practice Facebook Page, so she visits it to post a comment and a review. In her comment, she states she had a Kenalog injection and was treated for pain. She goes on to say she highly recommends anyone who is suffering from pain to see one of your providers.
A simple and effective HIPAA compliant response would be:
"Thank you for your comments! We strive to provide excellent care to our patients and are very grateful for your feedback."
Facebook can be a powerful tool when used appropriately. It can benefit your healthcare organization while still maintaining patient confidentiality and privacy. It just takes a little setup, some administration, and monitoring by assigned users. As long as you proceed with caution, a Facebook Page can be used by your healthcare organization.