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Social Media Rules: HIPAA Violations

Social media is a great business tool for all industries, but it does pose a different risk for those in the healthcare sector due to the chance of HIPAA violations. Even though you do your best to protect patient privacy, your social media efforts can easily be hacked, thus compromising this privacy. Now that tablets, laptops and cellphones are commonly used in health care settings, HIPAA breaches are more common than you think. This is why you need to make it a point to be HIPAA compliant while still running your social media efforts.

As your practice develops blog posts, social media content and more, it easy to understand why some facilities are at risk of sharing details about patients in a public digital kind of way. Some common mistakes that violate HIPPA include capturing the profile of a patient in the background of a photo without permission, providing details about patients in an article or blog that could make the patient feel that their privacy has been compromised, and posting a video that shows a computer screen that features a patient’s records pulled up.

But personal social media accounts of employees can also pose HIPAA violation risks. Some ways that employees can potentially violate HIPAA regulations including talking about a patient they saw on-site in their message, offering medical advice or opinions on personal accounts that could be mistaken for the practice or sharing posts or updates in a way that refer to certain situations faced throughout their workday. And posting videos or pictures in a clinic or hospital setting can be a violation if there are any patients or patient information in the background. And professionals can also violate HIPAA rules on sites like LinkedIn if they share a patient’s unique details to help get a diagnosis or opinions on a matter.

It’s important that practices and health care settings be vigilant about what they share and also let their employees know there are rules even on their own social media accounts. The key to staying on top of things is creating and enforcing policies, training staff on how to follow them right and always monitoring posts shared from your organization’s accounts to make sure they are HIPAA compliant. Also, keep archives of all digital content and posts to have record of them if there is ever a question about a breach of privacy.

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