Social Media – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Social Media – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly …

Without guidance from Health and Human Services, it can be difficult to know how to navigate the healthcare social media rules.

Providers, agencies, and brands need to create informative, engaging social content. At the same time, you need to follow industry rules and regulations.

For all the potential good, there are many risks associated with the use of social media.  These are well documented, and in the case of the newer devices and technologies are only just evolving.  Remembering back only a few years, computing was done on a larger and less portable device.  The risks of today and tomorrow will not only be based on the applications themselves but on the smaller and more portable devices, we find them running on.


The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly


Social Media – The Good

Healthcare organizations can use social media for “The Good” is to develop social media campaigns to drive awareness on a specific topic.

Examples include:

  • • Breast Cancer Awareness – for patients and families
  • • Babies – targeting new moms
  • • Pediatric – focusing on children’s health


Social Media – The Bad

Patients have been discussed by their caregivers. Names may not have been used, but still, references to a patient in a certain room or a description of the patient or why they are being treated may still provide enough information to identify individuals.

Negative comments can get posted about patients, co-workers, providers, working conditions, salary, and benefits, or administration. A potential risk that should not be overlooked is that on many sites anything can be posted regardless of the truth.

These postings may include information that may be protected under HIPAA or can affect your brand, reputation or good name. While you may be able to block or remove posted content, you will have no control of where it may have been copied to or whom it was seen by. A disclosure or incident may have occurred which will require time and resources to address, even though your organization may have had nothing to do with posting it in the first place.


Social Media – The Ugly

When I say ugly, I MEAN UGLY!!

This was reported in June 2018, after an EMS worker from Tennessee responded to a call after a patient suffered a heart attack in his chicken coop.

But …

Posted the following on her Facebook account:

Well, we had a first…

We worked a code in a chicken coop!

Knee deep in chicken droppings.”

In the comment section to her post, the worker also wrote, “It was awful,” and “I’m pretty sure y’ all could smell us in dispatch

The patient’s wife called the County EMS to complain about the post, but they didn’t return her call.


Healthcare social media is NOT something anyone should do without understanding the implications of their actions.

Do you think this Facebook post is a HIPAA violation?

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