I was interviewed for an article on AIS Health that came out last week. The title of this article — on health care social media and regulatory and legal issues that health care providers may face in using these tools — struck me as being tinged with hysteria (hence the selection of the artwork accompanying this post):

HIPAA Dangers Lurk on Facebook; Ongoing Policy Revisions Are Advised

Cooler heads should prevail.

There are clearly things to be concerned about when embarking upon the implementation of social media tactics in the service of broader strategies and organizational goals.  Decisions about goals must be made.  Terms and conditions for staff, on the one hand, and patients, families and caregivers, on the other, need to be clear and comprehensive.  And expectations regarding employee use of social media, whether as an "official" voice of the organization, or as a person known to be associated with the institution and therefore acting as a brand ambassador whenever on line or in real life, need to be carefully developed and communicated.

I'm speaking today at the Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS) social media conference, about these and related issues.  Just this morning, in my hotel-delivered newspaper, there's a front-page story on Facebook and privacy concerns.  These issues are persistent, no matter what platform you are using, or are considering using. As I have said before, at a policy level, your approach needs to be platform-agnostic.

Overall, careful planning will improve the chances that a health care provider will be able to effectively leverage the reach of social media for its message without running afoul of legal and regulatory land mines.

David Harlow 
The Harlow Group LLC
Health Care Law and Consulting