Skip to main content

3 Tips to Protect Your Hospital With Clear-Cut Social Media Policies

Analysis  |  By Credentialing Resource Center  
   January 17, 2019

An attorney suggests unambiguous rules for employees as the best practice to proactively defend your organization's reputation.

A version of this excerpt was published January 17, 2019, in HCPro's Credentialing Resource Center Daily, a sibling publication to HealthLeaders.

As a space created for the provision of high-quality care, hospitals have the right to implement policies that they believe enhance patient care.

Hospital policies concerning social media use and even mobile device use may prove extremely beneficial both in preserving the reputation of the hospital's clinicians—and by extension, the hospital—and ensuring high-quality care. 

Fatema Zanzi, JD, partner at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, in Chicago (and formerly with Drinker Biddle & Reath, LLP), offers tips on implementing a social media policy at your hospital:

1. Start with a mobile device policy. 

Zanzi suggests having a policy that "prohibits use of the clinician's personal mobile device to communicate patient information because of the security risk associated with that, unless that mobile device is appropriately secured through software provided by the hospital." 

Instituting a mobile device policy guards against HIPAA violations by prohibiting the sharing of information on platforms that are not secure.

2. Ban social media use on-site. 

Zanzi recommends making this policy straightforward, with hospitals explicitly saying to their clinical staff, "When you are on-site, and you are working here, you cannot use your personal social media." 

Related: How Nurses Can Prevent Social Media Mishaps

Hospitals should actively discourage personal social media use while on the clock because it can be extremely distracting to employees who are meant to be working.

3. Encourage the use of patient portals. 

While Zanzi recognizes that patients are seeking more convenient means of connecting with their physicians and other clinicians, she cautions against communication between physicians and patients over social media.

Related: 4 Strategies for Physician Practices to Engage Millennials

"You want to make sure that any of that communication is secure, and you want to retain documentation of that communication in any cases of litigation," she says. 

Patient portals offer secure platforms through which patients can communicate with their physicians electronically.

This excerpt was edited by HealthLeaders' Steven Porter.

The Credentialing Resource Center (CRC) is the premier destination for credentialing, privileging, and peer review expertise. Membership provides MSPs, quality professionals, and medical staff leaders with a collection of continuously updated tools, best practice strategies, and compliance tips developed by industry experts. With three membership tiers, you can customize your access level depending on your education and training needs. Learn more

Get the latest on healthcare leadership in your inbox.