Yes. Hospital employees engage in social media – at work, she is probably using a mobile device.
This can be good. Employees share hospital disease information, promote hospital events, and attract new job prospects.
This also can be bad. Recently, an employee at a Cincinnati hospital cruelly disclosed on Facebook a woman’s name and her diagnosis of syphilis.
While the risk of social media by hospital employees can never be eliminated, it can be mitigated:
- Draft social media guidelines that the least educated employees can understand, and make them accessible to all employees at the hospital’s web site, HIPAA trainings, new employee orientation, etc.
- Require employees to add a disclaimer to their social media posts or sites indicating they’re speaking on their own behalf, not the hospital. Or, recommend that employees not identify themselves as employees of the hospital.
- Expect and plan for a social media emergency, just as you would a communications crisis. The hospital in Cincinnati quickly responded on Facebook and Twitter. The CEO took responsibility and explained the error. The majority of comments to news stories, including the two on their Facebook page, appeared to blame the employees and not the hospital.
By doing so, you can reduce the incidences of employees inadvertently disclosing private medical information or prepare for the rare occasion when an employee maliciously exposes a patient’s health condition.
Learn more, including the impact of the NLRA, from Dan Goldman, J.D., legal counsel for the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media.