Sheila Limmroth on Social Media Compliance [Podcast]

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By Adam Turteltaub

Ah, social media. The cause of so much joy and pain, both for individuals and organizations. For compliance teams it can be a breeding ground for breaches, particularly in healthcare where HIPAA violations and social media tend to go hand in hand.

Pinnacle Healthcare Consulting’s Sheila Limmorth tackled the issue of social media and compliance in the latest edition of the Complete Healthcare Compliance Manual and does so in this podcast.

Some issues, such as a worker posting a photo with a patient, persist. Often innocent, these breaches are nonetheless serious. It’s the reason why ongoing training is necessary. A new worker coming, for example, out of fast food probably is unaware of the restrictions of HIPAA. Even veteran staff may lose track of the rules, and the marketing team may not realize that the testimonial they want to run still requires a signed consent form from the patient.

In addition, the rapid turnover in healthcare workers means that if you have training on an annual cycle, it’s highly likely that a significant portion of the workforce has not received the education it needs.

To make that training effective, she recommends providing examples of how to use social media  properly, and ways that people may use it very improperly.

Unfortunately, it’s not just accidental breaches and a lack of training you need to worry about. The website and the software on it are also important. She points to the Meta Pixel JavaScript Code that many hospitals were using and which allegedly could share the data with Meta, the parent of Facebook.

As with other compliance risks, ongoing monitoring is essential for managing social media. Fortunately, there are providers of software that will scour the various platforms to look for posts and even identify material that was likely submitted by an employee. In addition, she advises encouraging employees to be on the lookout for and report material that shouldn’t be on the web.

The goal of this vigilance shouldn’t be to catch and punish, but prevent, educate and avoid future social media disasters.

Listen in and learn more in the Complete Healthcare Compliance Manual.