HIPAA & Social Media :
Social Media is a part of every-day activity for many, and it is essential to carefully consider how it is used in medical offices for everything from marketing and public information, to patient communications. The Internet and social media such as Facebook and Linked-In have changed the way people communicate and have introduced new risks into the process of providing health care services, and HIPAA Covered Entities now face difficult choices as social networking sites become a preferred means of communication for many, and run the risk of breaches, rule violations, and fines in the event of mishandling of PHI using these new technologies.
Patients want to be able to communicate with their health care providers, and providers want to communicate with their patients, using social networking sites. But communications using social networking sites has some inherent privacy and security risks that may put providers out of compliance.
New technologies present new challenges to health care providers, as there are simultaneously new requirements to share information with patients, and a new enforcement effort to ensure the privacy and security of Protected Health Information (PHI). Meeting both challenges requires careful consideration of all the regulations and technologies, as well as patient preferences and work flow.
With the new HIPAA random audit program under way, and increases in enforcement actions following breaches, now is the time to ensure your organization is in compliance with the regulations and meeting the communication needs and desires of its providers and patients.
You need the proper privacy protections for health information, and the necessary documented policies and procedures, as well as documentation of any actions taken pursuant to your policies and procedures. Most organizations haven’t updated their privacy and security policies or information security risk analysis to cover social networking. And, of course, you will need to train your staff in all the new policies and procedures.
Attend the detailed live session on HIPAA and Social Media : Understanding and Mitigating Compliance Risks with New Communication Technologies
In order to integrate the use of social networking into patient communications, it is essential to perform the proper steps in an information security compliance process to evaluate and address the risks of using the technology. And there has long been a HIPAA requirement for covered entities to do their best to meet the requests of their patients for particular modes of communication, and using social networking is no exception.
The stakes are high – any improper exposure of PHI may result in an official breach that must be reported to the individual and to the US Department of Health and Human Services. Likewise, complaints by a patient if they are not afforded the access they desire can bring about HHS inquiries and enforcement actions, so it is essential to find the right balance of access and control.