Social Media Day in the Healthcare World

Every dog supposedly has its day, and today - June 30th -  is officially World Social Media Day, as initially proclaimed by Mashable in 2010, and now as they say - its a thing.

In honor of World Social Media Day, let's take a quick tour of what's being said about the world of healthcare social media lately:

Digital Trends, in their June 19th post: The Doctor Will See You Now: How the Internet and Social Media Are Changing, discussed among other things physician and hospital social media presence, and the need for them to help combat the continuing potential for online misinformation. 

They quote Kevin Pho, M.D., prominent founder of “The problem is, you can’t trust everything you read online. For instance, consider that fewer than half of websites offered accurate facts on sleep safety for infants, or that pro-anorexia websites were shared more frequently on YouTube.”  They note that "according to Pho, health professionals need a strong social media presence to establish themselves as reputable sources as well as to properly point patients toward legitimate sites to be used as secondary sources."

Raymond Hino posts in the Hospital Impact blog this month, as he commemorated his 4,000 LinkedIn connection, that "For years, I have been encouraging hospital and healthcare leaders to have a very high social media IQ in order to excel and flourish in today’s volatile world. I recommend that hospitals and healthcare organizations maintain an active presence on, at least, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Yelp. All four of these sites are an open invitation for people, active on the web, to form opinions about your organization and potentially to serve as your best marketers, or worst detractors.

Dr. Sara Taylor, in her SaraTMD blog this month, posts about What Does the Future of Social Media in Healthcare Look Like? She tells us "The present climate of social media use in healthcare is a good indication of what the future holds. This is an area that only continues to gain momentum and the positives continue to outweigh the negatives. It is hard to deny the ability of a platform, such as Twitter, to allow physicians to share information, engage with the public and other healthcare professionals, promote health care policies and behaviours, and overall remain aware of new research and opportunities. And this is just scratching the surface – “Social media allows for expression, but also education and interaction, with groups of people that were previously impossible to reach.”

The June article Legal Challenges Posed by Healthcare’s Use of Social Media by Paul Rubell of Meltzer, Lippe, Goldstein & Breitstone, cautions that "Social media has become an important source of outcomes-based measurement. These measured results may enable providers to deliver more effective treatments. However, the untested nature of Big Data raises questions about the validity of virtual evidence. Its credibility has not been vetted. Some information is purposely planted on social media as fake news, including in the healthcare space. In other instances, social postings are improperly posted to commit industrial sabotage, to harvest data for marketing, and other unsavory purposes. Oftentimes, information found on Twitter and YouTube is inaccurate or controversial. As with the Internet’s WebMD and Google search results, incorrect information can pose life-threatening consequences to individuals who pay it heed. Social media’s palette of disinformation can cause injuries and with them, the potential for legal liability. Even more significantly, health information that is not kept private online may give professional liability insurance carriers the opportunity to deny coverage claims."

In fact, on of the most prevalent themes in articles and posts on healthcare social media is discussion of HIPAA concerns. We'll close with a look at this VONT post June 12th post: How to Use Social Media and Be HIPAA Compliant, which includes a detailed discussion of these "8 steps for doing social and respecting HIPAA:
1. Identify objectives that social media can address for your organization. 
2. Determine the best social media for your objectives
3. Identify the one or two people who will act as administrators for the social medium.
4. Train your social media administrators. 
5. Develop a plan to actively promote the site to acquire followers. 
6. Set a general calendar schedule for posting new information. 
7. Be prepared to respond to negative posts. 
8. Immediately take down posts that violate any patient’s privacy. 

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