How to manage healthcare social media risk

Healthcare organizations are starting to catch up to the rest of the world in adopting social media, especially in the past two to three years. Still, many in the risk-averse healthcare industry remain skittish about social media.

There are ways to mitigate social media risk, according to a new report from the nonprofit ECRI Institute.

ECRI found that hospitals and other healthcare organizations use social media in ways that attempt to meet consumer demand, according to a release. But ECRI recommends that hospitals create and enforce social media plans that define the organization's level of engagement, its audience, and who will manage social media outlets. The report also recommends that organizations establish policies and procedures for managing risks related to privacy, reputation management, and employment issues.

"I won't tell you that you have to join Facebook or set up a Twitter account, but your patients and staff are using these tools," Paul Anderson, ECRI Institute director of risk management publications, said in a release. "Healthcare managers would be shortsighted not to consider both the risks and benefits that social media presents. Yes, there are privacy and reputational risks, but social media can present tremendous opportunities for hospitals to communicate with their communities, patients, and staff."

Other recommendations in the report include: 

  • Adding social media to HIPAA training
  • Creating policies that are flexible enough to accommodate emerging social media without constant updates
  • Using employees other than hiring managers to screen candidates' social media profiles during the hiring process 

To learn more:
- watch Paul Anderson discuss social media risk
- access the free social media risk analysis (registration required)
- check out the list of healthcare organizations using networking and social media sites