Social media has taken the professional world by storm. The majority of industries are currently impacted by the force of social media, especially in regards to the marketing aims within social networking. The healthcare sector also experiences the influence of social media as doctors and patients take to blogging and Facebook to discuss diseases, diagnostics and treatments. However, healthcare professionals should avoid providing personal patient information or else risk committing HIPAA violations.
Healthcare IT News reports that, six years ago, the Pew Research Forum discovered that 80 percent of adults in the United States used the internet to find medical information. Last year, data gathered by Frost and Sullivan - a firm that provides customer-dependent market research and analysis - illustrates that between 87 and 90 percent of physicians used at least one social media website for personal postings while as much as 75 percent used social networking for professional reasons.
One particular website, PatientsLikeMe, offers a way for patients to connect to one another and offer advice on which treatments have worked and haven't worked for them. It also allows patients to communicate with their doctors in regards to new treatments, rare or common symptoms and other medical decisions.
"In addition, banding together with others in their situation offers necessary comfort and understanding patients might not necessarily receive from even the most well-meaning loved one," Christina Seivers wrote in an article for the news source.
However, it is important to remember that providing information online could compromise patient-doctor confidentiality and lead a physician or other healthcare worker to trigger HIPAA violations. Healthcare providers attempting to avoid violating confidentiality standards should speak to a healthcare IT consulting company.