3 Ways Doctors Can Embrace Social Media Without Violating HIPAA

Doctors - HIPAA

Patient records and and doctor/patient communication are pretty much all electronic these days. There are so many electronic devices that provide doctors and their staff with patient information right at their fingertips. Mobile technologies and social media offer tremendous potential to enhance medical practices and enhance patients’ involvement in their own care. Potential breaches of patient personal health information is one major concern, and the second is to maintain professional conduct in the use of social media for advocacy, marketing, and patient outreach.

Here are 3 ways that doctors can embrace social media without violating HIPAA:

Causes:  The best way for doctors and other medical professionals to create an awareness of their brand is to sign up to a cause or campaign. With the aim to draw attention to specific health problems affecting a specific group of people, social media campaigns can draw in participants from around the world. Hospitals, healthcare associations or advocacy bodies can affiliate themselves with a cause that they are passionate about. They can then lead an awareness week or month and advertise it on social media. A unique hashtag would also help the campaign gain currency and get their name out there as a community leader.

Live Tweeting:  Doctors often travel the world to attend medical conferences pertaining to their particular field of medicine. Often these conferences will assign official hashtags, for example, recently in Melbourne, at the annual Health Informatics Conference, the conference had assigned the hashtag of #HIC14 so attendees could live-tweet key takeaways from workshops and seminars. Live-tweeting enables other doctors to get in on the conversation and participate in the discussions. And, as a bonus, you get more followers for your Twitter account and, in turn, gaining more recognition for the hospital, practice or association that you are affiliated with.

Good Information:  Social Media is a perfect outlet for doctors and other medical professionals to educate the masses, offering expert medical advice.  If you offer good information, that is relevant to your audience and is easy to follow, you will keep people engaged.  People are more likely to trust a doctor than an email forward from a friend.  This can be done in original ways by using other social media platforms like Google+ and Youtube to post short tip videos or how-tos. Clear blog posts written in an engaging style by experts (doctors are experts) are also a way to establish yourself as a leader in the healthcare industry.  The topics can be about whatever field of medicine you are in, just make sure it’s accurate, helpful, good information.

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