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Social Media Still Controversial in Healthcare?

Posted on October 6, 2017 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He is currently an independent marketing consultant working with leading healthIT companies. Colin is a member of #TheWalkingGallery. His Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung.

Thirteen years after the first Facebook post and eleven years after the first tweet, social media use by healthcare professionals continues to be a controversial topic.

In October last year, nurse Carolyn Strom was found guilty of “professional misconduct” by the Saskatchewan Registered Nurses’ Association (SRNA) for a post she made on Facebook. On February 25th 2015 Strom posted the following comment following her grandfather’s death at St Joseph’s Health Facility (Strom did not work at that facility):

“My grandfather spent a week in palliative care before he died and after hearing about his and my family’s experience there, it is evident that not everyone is ‘up to speed’ on how to approach end of life care or how to help maintain an aging senior’s dignity.”

“I challenge the people involved in decision making with that facility to please get all your staff a refresher on this topic and more. Don’t get me wrong, ‘some’ people have provided excellent care so I thank you so very much for your efforts, but to those who made Grandpa’s last years less than desirable, please do better next time.”

André Picard wrote an excellent post earlier this year about the Strom “professional misconduct” decision by the nurse association.

This case and a recent Canadian Medical Association session on the lack of civility between physicians on social media served as the kernel of a recent #hcldr chat led by guest hosts Pat Rich @pat_health and Trish Paton @TrishPaton.

A clear sentiment from the #hcldr community was that healthcare regulatory bodies and professional associations were woefully behind-the-times when it came to social media policy.

Matthew Katz MD had a keen observation and suggestion for regulators:

Fear of fines and sanctions from regulatory bodies/associations coupled with the very real danger of being ostracized by peers, have effectively made social media into a “no-go” zone for healthcare professionals.

Robert Mahoney @mahoneyr had a very interesting take on social media posts from healthcare professionals.

Thankfully there are some progressive healthcare organizations out there who actually encourage their healthcare professionals to get engaged online. To help their staff navigate social media, they have created clear policies and guidelines so that they do not run afoul of regulatory bodies. The Mayo Clinic shared theirs with the community:

What are your thoughts about healthcare professionals, governing associations and social media?

What Can a Hospital Learn from Snapchat?

Posted on May 2, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

For those of you who don’t follow the trends, Facebook started the social network fun. Although, more and more youngsters are moving from Facebook to Instagram. Now, we’re seeing more and more people using Instagram and Snapchat. I’m sure some of you reading this are saying, “What’s Snapchat?”

Here’s a good description of Snapchat for that aren’t familiar with it:

Using the application, users can take photos, record videos, add text and drawings, and send them to a controlled list of recipients. These sent photographs and videos are known as “Snaps”. Users set a time limit for how long recipients can view their Snaps (as of April 2014, the range is from 1 to 10 seconds),[6] after which they will be hidden from the recipient’s device and deleted from Snapchat’s servers.

In the Facebook world, Zuckerberg told us all that we should all use our full name and that we should share everything with the world and keep it as a kind of history of our life forever. That’s been a really popular model and has a lot of benefits. However, the popularity of Snapchat shows that there’s also a lot of value in something that has much more restrictive and temporary life.

To describe it more simply, people are getting more interested and sophisticated in their approach to privacy.

Today, I think it’s fair to say that we have the Facebook model for data. Any data we collect we need to keep and preserve forever. The idea of ever deleting data is a sin of the highest degree. There are a lot of reasons why this model is used in healthcare. However, I wonder if a hospital could benefit from a snapchat like platform that allows you to communicate across the organization without the eternal nature of that conversation being stored in the patient record forever.

I’m sure the privacy advocates will come out and say that it’s a terrible idea. Why would healthcare providers want to communicate something that doesn’t get documented in the chart. Plus, heaven forbid something be said that the patient doesn’t get to access and see. All of these concerns are overblown. I know they are, because these private conversations have been happening since the beginning of medicine. They just happen in the hallways or on a phone call instead of an online message.

Much like consumers, we need to get a lot more sophisticated in our approach to how we handle our communication and the privacy of that communication.

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

Posted on September 23, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

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.

Arbitrary Hospital IT Security

Posted on December 6, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

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.

Your Facebook-like Health and Status Feed

Posted on September 18, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

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.