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Healthcare Marketers: How do you handle social care/PHI?


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Hi fellow healthcare marketers! 👋

When it comes to providing patient care/answers on social media, what’s your protocol for minimizing PHI?

The agency I work at specializes in healthcare marketing and we’re all HIPAA-certified. We get DMs and public comments of people sharing their medical history and it can be tough to navigate. We typically hide comments and respond offline, but I’ve seen some wild stuff shared in DMs. 

I’m wondering if it’s worth disabling Facebook/social messages entirely for healthcare orgs and directing people to a patient portal/HIPAA-compliant contact form instead.

Would love to hear from anyone who’s dealt with this!

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Best answer by kelly.mcdonald 5 June 2024, 18:26

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@Laura Porcincula, is there a way to share this directly with the folks in the Healthcare Industry Peer Group? 

@raven.gill Definitely interested in your thoughts on this!

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Hi @Anna Laura McGranahan, here are some peers who work in the healthcare industry who may be able to assist!

@danielle.thompson @derek.neal @kimberly @lea.fudez @lana.cobb @stephanie.bottoms @dan.windler @ashwani.sharma @robbie.schneider @shannon.shields @nicole.kliewer @dot.glenn @chandler.pacheco @chandra.lubben @kelly.mcdonald @jordan.loeffler @alisa.valencia.gowing @stephaniebee @madison.skipper @raven.gill @audrey.tanberg @kelly.krammes @Hannah Bennett @lisa.frame @kara.still @jill.johnstone king @jo.smith @lisagonzo @cortney.riley @andie.drobnik 

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For one client here is how we handle it, for public responses. 

Due to HIPPA policies we can’t answer your question here please call us at xx and ask for xx. They’ll be happy to answer your questions. 

Privately,

Thanks for reaching out but the marketing department handles this channel. Therefore due to HIPPA policies and to have your answers answered correctly and appropriately please call us at xxx and ask for xx. 

Our other client we just deal with things as they come up. I send the messages to the client and they respond and direct patients to the appropriate department phone numbers. 

 

But in all honesty we don’t get a lot of DMs. Maybe once to twice a year. Both hospitals are in very rural areas with older populations. Therefore, stereotypically this is not the population to reach out via social first without calling. Normally if they do get to the stage of getting on social the patient relations department is already aware of their situations. 

Hope this helps! @Anna Laura McGranahan 

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Hi @Anna Laura McGranahan,

Thanks for tagging me in and great question! We have standard responses and do not provide medical advice or encourage sharing any information on our social channels. If we have a webpage with helpful information, we’ll include that - but this is our typical response for both public and private comments. 

 

“Hi, NAME. We are unable to provide medical advice via social media. At this time, our best recommendation for you is to contact your child’s primary care physician. Thank you!”

 

For the question about disabling comments/messages - I'm not a fan. I think social channels are good for being social and letting people raise questions and engage. 

Hope that is helpful!

Thanks,

Cortney Riley 

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Hi @Anna Laura McGranahan,

Thanks for tagging me in and great question! We have standard responses and do not provide medical advice or encourage sharing any information on our social channels. If we have a webpage with helpful information, we’ll include that - but this is our typical response for both public and private comments. 

 

“Hi, NAME. We are unable to provide medical advice via social media. At this time, our best recommendation for you is to contact your child’s primary care physician. Thank you!”

 

For the question about disabling comments/messages - I'm not a fan. I think social channels are good for being social and letting people raise questions and engage. 

Hope that is helpful!

Thanks,

Cortney Riley 

Thank you, Cortney!

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Hi Anna! We work closely with our compliance and legal teams to develop a response library for these types of situations and review them on a yearly basis. 

For patients asking for medical advice, we respond with: “Hi [name], thanks for reaching out to us here! Unfortunately we cannot provide medical advice via social media. Please give us a call at [appropriate number] to schedule an appointment with one of our experts.”

For complaints, we’re also very careful not to confirm that the person was a patient with our response, so we use something somewhat vague, like: “Thanks for reaching out to us here. We’re concerned to hear this and would like to learn more. Please give our Patient Experience team a call at [appropriate number].”

We’re a state institution so we’re not able to disable messages/comments, but these responses have worked well for us. We do sometimes get feedback that the complaint response is impersonal, but our hands are tied there.

Happy to answer any other questions you might have!
Kelly 

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@Anna Laura McGranahan 

I’m in agreement with @cortney.riley about keeping comments and messaging on, and our approach to answering is similar.

We have a list of responses we use that help route people to where they can find the answers they need. These responses have been approved by our Legal department.  

A sample message we would use for someone seeking medical advice: “Hello, thanks for reaching out to us. For your privacy, social media platforms are not used to manage patient information. If you contact us at (XXX) XXX-XXXX, we do have a Patient Advisory Nurse who might be able to answer your question if it is not an emergency.” 

Hope this helps! 

-Kimberly 

 

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Thank you so much, everyone! This has been super helpful. 

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