Risks of Taking Your Health System Social

In a recent post about the state of social media in the healthcare industry, I talked briefly about the major risks and challenges associated with taking a healthcare system social. But, there can also be immense benefits.

What are the risks?

The risk that gets the most attention from C-level executives is managing patient privacy.

Being a social health system requires that the proper people, policies, and protocol are in place in order to avoid HIPAA violations.

PEOPLE

Make sure that you have a team identified for managing communication if a HIPAA violation is at risk, especially if you have a large social media workforce. These concerns are not something to be trifled with, and it’s important that each individual knows their place in mitigating the risk. Do you have a member of your organizations legal team available to review digital conversations? Who is responsible for crafting messages to social media users who have addressed a specific and personal health concern via social media? Whose final approval is needed before interacting with a user on social media that could potentially involve Protected Health Information (PHI) being shared?

POLICIES

Having a social media policy for both users who interact with your health system on social media is just as important as having a social media policy for your employees.

For the public:

It’s important to note in your social media policy that dialogue on social changes should not be construed as medical advice, professional services or recommendations. It’s also important to point out that social media is not a place for patients to post their own Protected Health Information. While this is not a fool-proof method for avoiding HIPAA violations, it is important to remind users and patients that their information cannot remain private if they share it publically via social channels.

For Employees:

While I am a firm believer that employees of any organization should be able to use personal social media accounts without interference from their employers, I am also a firm believer that the use of social media should not negatively reflect the image of your employer.  For healthcare professionals, there are greater risks involved. At the end of the day, all you really need to remember is: DO NOT post ANYTHING related to your day at work or the patients you encountered. Something as simple as communicating gender and symptoms can be considered a HIPAA violation, and it will result in the loss of your job.

PROTOCOL

While I’ve never been an advocate of “canned” social media responses, they are important to have on-hand when a possible HIPAA violation occurs. Sit down with your social media team and legal counsel to determine the best course of action if the risk of a HIPAA violation is imminent. Talk about things like messaging, terminology, and phrasing to be used in responses and protocol for removing posts, comments, tweets, etc. containing PHI from the digital space. Unfortunately, as we all know, once it’s posted, it’s never truly deleted, but it’s important to have a process in for mitigating the risks associated with PHI being shared.

What are the rewards?

With proper education for your social media team and organization employees, social media can be truly beneficial to a health system. Having a social presence allows a health system to build trust, place itself as a thought leader, and cultivate a digital community. Let’s discuss the rewards – and how to measure them – at a later date.

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Facebook FAQ: Is Facebook right for my brand?

Many brands struggle with whether to invest valuable time and effort into Facebook, and it is not a decision any marketer or business owner should make lightly.

The fact of the matter is: creating and maintaining a Facebook page that will be beneficial to your brand if it is, in fact, a good fit, will take work – a lot of work! Many people create a page willy-nilly and get frustrated when spending 1 hour a week maintaining it is not getting the results they had promised their superiors. So before creating a page, ask yourself the following questions:

How will a Facebook page satisfy my business goals?

Facebook can be instrumental in driving website traffic, increasing brand awareness and providing exceptional customer service among many other goals. But what are you trying to achieve, and how will you achieve it? If you’re goal is to drive more traffic to your website where users will sign up for a free demo of your product, Facebook is certainly a tool to help you reach your numbers… IF you enact the right strategies. Make sure Facebook offers a unique incentive to prospective leads (like a discount of 20% if they choose to buy your product after your demo) to entice them to sign up.

Is my audience on Facebook?

There are two key components to discerning whether your target audience is on Facebook.

  • Check out the data. Pew Internet research details precise demographics of users for various social networks and outlines which networks are best for reaching which audiences.
  • Put on your listening ears. There are many great social listening tools out there that can help you evaluate whether your brand is already being talked about on Facebook (or other networks) – even tools at no cost to you!

Does your brand have a Facebook page? How did you decide if it was the right network for your business?

Brands Do Care…

What’s said about them in the public sphere, that is.

I recently had a bit of a run-in with Time Warner Cable. They charged me twice for the month of June and I was not pleased. As a poor college student, deducting an extra $101.48 (yes, it’s that much) from my account is in no way acceptable. To solve this problem, I chatted online with an “Analyst.” She told me that they had not received multiple charges no matter how many times I tried to convey to her that the money was removed from my account, therefore they obviously had received it. After the pseudo-pleasant conversation with the “Analyst” during which I did my best to keep my cool even though I was wrapped up in a frustrating situation, I took to Twitter.

I received a reply less than 30 minutes later.

By end of day on June 3, my bank account was credited with a $101.48 refund.

Here’s the real kicker: my boyfriend’s roommate ran into the same situation last month. He called Time Warner Cable several times before being able to convince them that they had charged him twice. Finally, he was told he would receive a refund within 24 hours. It was two weeks before his account was credited.

Why the discrepency? No consumers in the Columbus area will hear the many calls my friend made to TWC, but the tweet I sent on June 3 is visible not only to the Columbus community, but the whole world. This is now part of the crisis communication PR professionals are trained in. Brands don’t want bad blood circulating around the web and the only way to rectify the situation is to create a timely resolution to the problem. In my case, TWC did, and therefore they received a tweet from me thanking them for their speedy solution to my problem. And while word of mouth is still a huge part of a brand’s communication strategy, it may no longer be a brand’s main concern.