Social Media Trends, Best Practices and Compliance for Healthcare Professionals

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Having a social media strategy should be an integrated part of a healthcare marketing plan. Many questions arise when deciding how to best engage in social media, however. Social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are increasingly being used by health care organizations to engage with patients and physicians, build brands, and communicate information to the larger community.

But there are risks in using social media without an understanding of the differences in the platforms and the best way to use them to communicate. Damage to the brand, exposing protected health information by violating HIPAA, or potentially inviting lawsuits are just some of the ways poorly implemented social media can negatively impact your company.

·          How does your practice use social media?

·          Do you have social media policies, best practices and training to comply?

·          How do your employees use it and do you monitor their activity?


Areas Covered in the Session:

·         Social Media Platforms

·         Benefits to providers, patients and community

·         Success Stories

·         Social media violations

·         Social Media Compliance

·         Best practices

·         Key takeaways


Who Will Benefit:

·         Healthcare Staff

·         Administrators

·         Marketing Departments

·         Compliance Officers

·         Communications Teams



Day 1:

Lecture 1: Review of major (Top 5) Social media platforms for healthcare.

Pros/Cons for being present (high level view) including benefits to providers, patients & community:

Facebook 1.19 billion users (10/30/13)

Twitter 500 million

LinkedIn 259 million

Pinterest 70 million

Google + 300 million

Foursquare 40 million users/1.9 businesses

YouTube 100 billion users, 400 billion users

Yelp! 100 million

Lecture 2: Success Stories

Mayo Clinic

Rush University Medical Center (Chicago)

Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston)

Scott & White Healthcare (central Texas)

Nebraska Medical Center (Omaha)

Lecture 3: Social Media Violations - The gray area

Some recent examples of social networking HIPAA breaches include:

A nurse who posted a patient's picture and chart on his Facebook page because he thought it was "funny" and since it was "only Facebook," there was no real harm in it.

A doctor who treated a patient over Twitter

Emergency room personnel who posted pictures on the Internet of a man being treated for fatal knife wounds.

A doctor who asked a patient on a date after seeing her profile on a dating website.

A Rhode Island doctor was fired from the hospital and reprimanded by the Medical Board after she posted on her Facebook page about a long day at work. She never referred to the patient's name but gave out enough details about the injuries to allow others to guess who it was.

Misconceptions about HIPAA information in social media:

1.             Avoiding identifying information is not a violation

In 2010, five nurses were fired from a medical center in California for discussing patients on Facebook. The hospital claims no identifying information, such a patient names or photos, were included in the posts, but chose to fire the employees anyway.

In a similar situation, a nurse in Michigan was fired for an angry update on Facebook about an alleged cop-killer (unnamed in her post) who was a patient at her hospital. Due to the news coverage, the hospital felt that it was clear whom the nurse was discussing.

2.             Pictures at work are okay as long as they aren't of patients

Four nursing students in Kansas were expelled from their program for posting pictures of themselves with a human placenta on Facebook. The students contend they were informed their post would not be a violation of privacy, but were expelled for their "lack of professional behavior" anyway.

It is also important to recognize often time more can be seen in a picture then a photographer intends. Even taking pictures of fellow staff members in the hallway might inadvertently capture a patient's name on a door or walking down the hallway.

3.             Public figures don't have the same protections

An employee at a medical center in Mississippi resigned from her job due to a privacy violating tweet. The employee responded to a tweet from Governor Haley Barbour concerning trimming expenses from the budget with a remark regarding the governor's private, after-hours appointment several years prior. Though the governor is a public figure, his medical history is protected under HIPAA.

Day 2:

Lecture 4: Social Media Compliance

·         Have a social media policy

o    Every policy is unique to the system. Can't cut & paste but you can follow the leaders as a starting point.

o    Remember that it's a two-way conversation. Have policy for responding to customer complaint/criticism

o    It's about managing the conversation, not controlling

o    Employees must be aware of and educated about the SM policy

o    Who "speaks for" the company

o    Clarify your policy on the "gray areas"

o    SM policy is a living document

o    A crisis will happen. Think through examples (as above) and plan your response.

Lecture 5: Best Practices

·         Have a social media policy

·         Have a social media strategy (aligns with overall marketing strategy)

·         Define social media tactics to use to achieve your goals

o    Don't enter every platform at once (but reserve your brand)

o    Become good at one or two platforms before adding other.

o    Be aware of the time commitment and expenses/skills needed for each platform (graphic design, photography, Video, copy writing, sense of humor, common sense.)

Lecture 6: Takeaways

·         Have a social media policy

·         Train ALL employees

·         Know why you are engaging and what you want to accomplish.

·         Listen and respond

·         Follow other systems (both competition and out of market)

Janet Kennedy, CMD

Director, Marketing and Digital Strategy 
Janet Kennedy, CMD is a 25-year interactive marketing professional. She is the Director of Marketing and Digital Strategy for Health Vue, a healthcare marketing analytics firm focusing on population health strategies.
Janet is the Host of Get Social Health, a podcast about social media for healthcare and is partner in a consulting firm of the same name. Janet is a frequent speaker and author of content on social media in healthcare for EHR2.0 and Get Social Health. She is active in numerous healthcare, startup and interactive associations including Startup Weekend, NC Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Thought Leaders, Health 2.0 Triangle and CHPRMS.


Location 1:  Miami, FL | October 16th & 17th, 2014 | 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM



Price: $1,295.00    

Register now and save $200. (Early Bird)
Until September 30, Early Bird Price: $1,295.00 
from October 01st to October 14th, Regular Price: $1,495.00

Location 2:  SFO, CA | November 20th & 21st, 2014 |9:00 AM to 6:00 PM



Price: $1,295.00    

Register now and save $200. (Early Bird)
Until October 20th, Early Bird Price: $1,295.00 
from October 21st to November 18th, Regular Price: $1,495.00


Contact Information

Event Coordinator

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Net Zealous LLC

43337 Livermore Common, Fremont CA 94539, USA









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