This was a busy week for those of us on the forefront of trying to functionally bridge healthcare and social media. The intersection of the two is *appearing* difficult to *safely* navigate. The LA Times article created quite a buzz on the social media scene. It was a rather melodramatic portrayal of an issue caused by the mere stupidity (or perhaps at best naiveté) of a few hospital staff members.
It does, however, bring to light a very important subject that hospitals, physicians, and other healthcare providers need to have a firm grasp of….
Hospitals need to embrace social media (it’s NOT going away), develop a comprehensive social media engagement policy, educate their staff, set acceptable parameters, track or monitor usage, remain vigilant and continue with the education process in perpetuity— as social media is fluid and evolving on a daily basis.
[B]y blocking this medium on your hospital server, you will remove a highly effective communications tool, all because you are fearful that a few misguided people will misuse it. You trade the illusion of security for a loss of community.
- Blocking Facebook won’t stop stupidity
- Good employees may not understand privacy
- You can block but you can’t hide.
I followed shortly thereafter with an article titled: “Facebook and Hospitals … Do we endeavor to Engage, Educate, Manage or Forbid” (article no longer online)
My take-home message was very similar to those who blogged prior to me…. hospitals need to realize that many employees own smartphones (so keeping the servers blocked is useless) and social media is not going away (500 Million users on FB alone will attest to that) and they (hospitals) cannot hide from it. They need to embrace the power of social media, educate their staff, set parameters, develop, communicate and enforce a comprehensive policy to their staff and remain vigilant.
Never to remain silent for long… Phil Baumann, via his Health is Social alter ego posted: ” Hospitals can Block Facebook But Not the 21st Century”
[A]nd here’s the fiduciary responsibility part: the more comfortable a business is using social media internally, you know what happens? It becomes more proficient in marketing and public relations in our time.Management is morally obligated to ensure the best care for patients. It’s also legally obligated to do what’s right for Investors.
They’re the ones with capital.
Which is to say: they are the ones who ultimately decide who keeps their job.
It’s a rough economy. Attention is a scarce resource.
Doing your best to know what century you’re in is never a bad career move.
There were many others who posted/blogged and tweeted on this subject and I apologize for not including you in this Facebook and Healthcare “wrap-up”. But it seems we are all on the same page. It is now up to hospitals to finally embrace social media for what it is… a very powerful, wide-reaching medium that has tremendous potential for good. The legal staff may feel differently—but (with all due respect) they are wrong. Institutions must develop comprehensive strategies to address social media. They do not need to embrace it from the PR side ( a big mistake), but they need to educate their staff, inform them of their obligation to protect a patient’s privacy and remain ever vigilant… social media adoption is exponential; social media is evolving very rapidly… and social media is not going away.
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