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Facebook Like Now Covered by the First Amendment – Applications for Healthcare

A big court case, Bland v. Roberts, has recently ruled that the Facebook Like is now covered by the first amendment. This was an overturn of a previous lower court ruling. Here’s the summary of the case from The Atlantic:

In November of 2009, B.J. Roberts, the sheriff of Hampton, Virginia, ran for re-election. A group of workers in Roberts’ office, however, among them one Bobby Bland, weren’t enthused about the prospects of their boss’s continuation in his role. So they took to their Facebook accounts to protest the run: They Liked the campaign of Roberts’s opponent, Jim Adams. Despite the minuscule mutiny, however, Roberts won the election. He then chose not to retain Bland and the others as his employees. The dismissals, Roberts said at the time, were the result not only of budgeting concerns, but also of the workers’ hindrance of “the harmony and efficiency of the office.” The sheriff had not liked his workers’ Likes.

Bland and his colleagues took Roberts to court, arguing that, in the dismissals, Roberts had violated their First Amendment rights. In April of 2012, however, the U.S. District Court of Eastern Virginia dismissed the case on the grounds that a Like didn’t involve an “actual statement,” and therefore was “insufficient speech to merit constitutional protection.”

Yesterday, however, that decision was overturned. A federal appeals court ruled that a Facebook Like is, indeed, a form of expression that is covered by the First Amendment. Clicking a button is, per the decision, a protected form of speech.

Of course, those reading this must be wondering how this applies to healthcare.

Some of you might remember last month when several Spectrum Health employees were terminated over a picture posted to Facebook. The employee who posted the picture was fired and so was everyone who liked it.

I’m not saying that these cases are the same. Posting a picture that could be considered a violation of HIPAA and could be a violation of an organizations social media policy is different than a police officer liking an opposing Sheriff’s page. However, I wouldn’t want to be Spectrum Health if the employees who liked the Facebook photo brought a wrongful termination lawsuit. There are a lot of intricacies to a case that covers so many areas of the law.

In another international example, 15 nurses were fired from a hospital for liking someone’s comment which was critical of the hospital. Certainly the Philippines has different laws than we have in the US. However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a similar thing happen in the US. Considering the latest ruling, I’d be really careful if I were a hospital firing someone based on social media.

My favorite thing is when healthcare organizations try and control and restrict social media. As many institutions have learned, that’s impossible to do. Instead, it’s much more effective to educate and inform people on their use of social media. The best reason you should educate and inform as opposed to control and restrict is the message it sends to your employees. The former sends a message of trust and respect while the later does the opposite.

September 23, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 5000 articles with John having written over 2000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 9.3 million times. John also recently launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

Arbitrary Hospital IT Security

A really great quote came out of the mHealth Summit this week that’s worth sharing with this audience:

My favorite example of this is when a hospital makes it a policy that Facebook is not allowed in the office. The problem with this policy is just as the tweet above states, employees will find a way to work around the policy. Sure, you can block Facebook on your local network. However, pretty much every employee has a cell phone in their pocket which they can use to access Facebook if they want to access it. Do you really want to relegate your staff to taking their cell phone in the bathroom to check Facebook?

Instead of trying to control your workers which usually backfires with them working around your policies, I like to look at ways to empower your workers. In this case, instead of banning Facebook, you teach them appropriate and inappropriate use of Facebook during work hours. This empowers your employees to do the right thing as opposed to trying to control their actions through some arbitrary security policy which is impossible to enforce.

December 6, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 5000 articles with John having written over 2000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 9.3 million times. John also recently launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

Your Facebook-like Health and Status Feed

I recently read Vishnuvardhan t request something interesting for healthcare IT:

Real Time Health and Status Feeds (like the one we see in many social networking sites) for doctors, physician, nurses integrated into the clinical workflow rather than as a separate screen is very important for real time decision making.

I find the idea quite intriguing and I love the idea of taking from the addicting world of social networking sites and applying that to healthcare. The challenge I have with the idea comes largely from the way we use social networks. In most cases, users don’t read every message of their social network. I certainly don’t read every Facebook post or tweet that comes across my networks. In fact, I’d probably have to spend all day every day to do so. I just sample messages at random intervals and even then I’m getting a filtered feed of information (at least on Facebook).

Unfortunately, this approach doesn’t work in healthcare where if you miss a key piece of data, then someone dies. Physicians and nurses can’t just sample a real time health and status feed across their patients choosing the ones that look interesting.

Although, the idea of having a detailed health and status feed for a patient could be quite interesting. It would need to contain each and every piece of healthcare data that’s available and could be a very cool approach to getting an update on a patient.

Imagine also that this real time health and status feed pulled in information from your local EHR, but also pulled in information from outside the EHR as well. Think about labs, x-rays, primary care providers, etc all getting their information sucked into this feed.

We’re not there today, but I find it an interesting way to think about a person’s health history as a real time feed of health information.

September 18, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 5000 articles with John having written over 2000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 9.3 million times. John also recently launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.