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Instagram and Healthcare

What about Instagram?

Instagram is one of the fastest growing social media platforms, it is estimated that in the United States alone by 2019 there will be an estimated 111 million active users. Of these users, it is estimated over half of Instagram™s users are between ages 18 and 29. However, it is growing in popularity with other age groups at an equal pace.  With this increase in popularity it is important to be aware of what it means for your health care organization.

So, what is Instagram? For those unsure of what Instagram is, it a social media platform that allows users to take, edit and share photographs and videos. Whether sharing an Instagram Post, going “live” on Instagram, or sharing Instagram Stories.  When used correctly Instagram could have a positive impact on your healthcare organization. What™s important to understand, is the same HIPAA considerations that apply to other social media platforms, such as Facebook, apply to Instagram as well.

  • Instagram can be a great asset to your organization with proper steps to ensure its monitored well.  Great way to promote new providers, treatment options, locations, and more.
  • All interactions on an Instagram account need to be monitored to ensure patient privacy and that confidentiality remains intact.  An administrator to the account needs to monitor it at regular intervals.
  • Posting on Instagram does not qualify as treatment, payment or healthcare operations; therefore, if you are going to post any patient PHI you must have patient consent.

What if a patient posts on Instagram?

  • You are responsible for what a patient posts in Instagram. For example, if you have a practice Instagram page and a patient of your practice posts a picture or story tagging himself at your practice. By them posting, they are consenting to whatever information they share.

What is important, and what you may be responsible for, is the way you respond. We recommend keeping responses general: “Thank you for your post!  We strive to provide excellent care to our patients and are very grateful for your feedback.”

Instagram is a powerful social media tool when used appropriately. Instagram could be used by your healthcare organization with certain precautionary efforts. For further information on how to handle social media, a good place to start is to follow these tips on Posting with Caution: The DO™s and DON™Ts of Social Media and HIPAA Compliance.

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