Health 2.0 can pose risks to providers

In the past, if a doctor notated that a patient was "CLL" ("chronic low-life") or "LOBNH" ("lights on but nobody home"), it was entirely possible that nobody would ever see it. But if such habits migrate online, it's another thing entirely, notes Kevin Clauson, associate professor of pharmacy practice at Nova Southeastern University. Clauson, who spoke at the first Medicine 2.0 Congress, emphasized that while Web 2.0 technology can be useful and productive, it can open up organizations to embarrassment, or even legal exposure.

For one thing, he notes, it's not clear what role clinicians must take when reading content on Web 2.0 sites. For example, Clauson said it's not clear whether pharmacists in the U.S. have a "duty to warn" if they read a posting by a patient stating that they were taking drugs that would interact with their prescriptions.

Another risk is that doctors will take their bad habits--such as using derogatory slang--into Health 2.0 environments, which could expose them to public view. What happens if patients know, from visiting a health site, that they've been tagged as a CLL? Worse, if they find out online, they don't have the provider's tone of voice or manner to mitigate the hurt such things might cause, he notes.

On top of everything else, there's the issue of how residents, doctors and other clinicians conduct themselves online. He cites a recent study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, which found that medial students at the University of Florida had posted a wide variety of potentially offensive or compromising material on Facebook, including photos of themselves taken when they were visibly drunk.

Seems like Web 2.0 communications are crying out for guidelines, doesn't it?

To learn more about this issue:
- read this Digital HealthCare & Productivity piece

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