I spoke on health care social media and regulatory compliance at the Health Care Compliance Association's New England Regional Annual Conference last week. As you may expect, the room was full of the folks who, generally speaking, are the folks who block social media sites on health care organization networks. I sent a link to an online bio to one of the session organizers in advance, and even that site was blocked by his facility's network. Clearly, we have a long way to go in educating health care compliance professionals about the risks and benefits of using health care social media, and an appropriate approach to balancing these risks and benefits so as to establish an appropriate social media presence for each health care organization.
My talk was followed by a presentation by two federal prosecutors, one of whom reminded the audience that they may need to produce copies of all online postings in response to government document requests or subpoenas. We may quibble about the scope of material that might be covered by such a production request, but the key takeaway from this comment should be that we all need to be very careful about what materials we post online (or allow to remain posted on web properties we administer or own), because they may be found online indefinitely and, to quote the Miranda warning, anything you say may be used against you.
Having said all that, there are tremendous opportunities available to health care organizations that choose to join the vanguard using social media effectively. For a sense of the challenges and opportunities, please check out Don Fluckinger's piece on my presentation, entitled The latest mashup: Health care social media and HIPAA compliance, and related posts on health care social media.
The Harlow Group LLC
Health Care Law and Consulting