The industry newsletter site HealthLeaders has a post today about hospitals using Twitter to handle patient communication and public relations crises.
The post begins by talking about Pinterest and the caution hospital marketing people still have toward that latest social media site, and goes on to mention a patient in an Atlanta hospital who tweeted while an inpatient about her unhappiness at not being able to access Facebook while in her room.
HIPAA, the Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, does come into play–a healthcare provider cannot legally talk about patients or their conditions in a public venue. One wonders about patients violating their own privacy, however unwittingly; if the hospital knew one of its patients was tweeting, that means the patient already violated her own privacy by identifying herself as a patient there. (HIPAA won’t even let a hospital confirm a given person is a patient if that person doesn’t give permission to do so.)
Social media make for great, immediate tools to reach large audiences with…but we (speaking as a patient, not a healthcare providers) just don’t always stop to think about what our immediate communication might do to violate our own privacy.
McDonald’s restaurants have sprung up in some unusual places, but their effort to “co-locate,” as the jargon goes, with hospitals and clinics is running into some spirited opposition.
HealthLeaders Media is running a lengthy piece about the work about a consumer advocacy group called Corporate Accountability International to keep the fast-food giant out of hospitals. While they haven’t been completely successful–there are, to date, more than two dozen Mickey D’s restaurants on hospital campuses in the U.S.–CAI is trying to increase awareness and shame hospital administrators into driving the burger chain off-campus.
According to an article about the campaign in USA Today, some parents who bring their diabetic children for checkups offer a treat if they’re good during their doctor visit–a trip to the McDonald’s right there at the clinic. These same doctors are trying to get the hospitals and clinics they work at to change; not just to dump McDonald’s, but to make sure their own cafeterias serve healthy food rather than chicken-fried steak and fatty snacks.
You know the fight is still uphill when the very places we go to get healthy still house the purveyors of the things that keep us unwell.
Social networking tools are becoming increasingly popular resources for hospitals, both in the United States and abroad.
Edward Bennett, director of web strategy at the University of Maryland Medical System, has compiled a list of U.S. hospitals that use social networking tools. These tools include YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Four Square, and blogs. His list includes 906 hospitals total that collectively utilize 3,087 social networking sites. Bennett asserts that hospitals can use social media in a variety of ways such as for customer service, community outreach, patient education, public relations, and crisis communications.