Photo: Library of Congress
Since the dawn of time people have been soliciting professionals for all matters of free advice and the healthcare marketing journalist is no exception. While doctors are showed their friends' children's bruised elbows and lawyers are handed their second-cousin's job contract to read over, I am, without fail, asked by various doctors and specialists for advice on a single topic: social media.
At a recent follow-up appointment with a surgeon for an old injury, my doctor asked a more specific question: should he be tweeting?
It's clear, from anecdotes I hear from my sources within the healthcare industry and stories I've picked up at conferences over the years, that hospital marketers are often posed the very same question. How they respond, however, varies; while some organizations have thrown themselves into social media from the get-go, others are reluctant to let any member of staff—including physicians—post anything on social media without direct oversight.
This hesitancy is not unfounded, as there are countless stories of doctors, medical students, nurses, and other hospital staff members violating HIPAA through their personal online accounts, unintentionally or otherwise. For example, just last year a physician at Chicago's Northwestern Memorial Hospital allegedly posted photos to his Facebook and Instagram accounts of a model admitted to the ER for excessive alcohol consumption.