5 keys to the legal issues of social media in healthcare
Social media is without a doubt playing a major part in patient engagement, marketing efforts, and an overall sense of communication within the industry. Yet with the growth of these tools come other issues to keep in mind — like the legal ramifications of using outlets like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn within a healthcare setting.
"These social media sites have moved beyond the novelty stage and into the mainstream," read a recent whitepaper by Actiance. "They have become so pervasive that they have emerged as effective tools within the corporate setting as well. The line separating the recreational use of these tools from legitimate business purposes has become increasingly blurred."
"The potential legal issues that can arise from social networking activities run the gamut," it continued. "Privacy, unauthorized activities, and intellectual property issues stand top-of-mind for many individuals and enterprises. Other areas, such as content ownership, regulatory compliance, and even criminal activity, are impacted by social media, too."
Here are five keys to the legal issues of social media, as outlined in the report.
1. Privacy. According to the report, no issue resonates so strongly with the legal aspects of social media as privacy. "With so much content out there, and so many ways to access these social media tools, privacy has become somewhat elusive for many," it reads. "From a legal standpoint, whether an individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy or not is the critical factor in determining whether one’s actions are protected by privacy laws." When thinking about social media in the workplace, the report notes that determining if an employee has a reasonable expectation of privacy hinges on whether or not the website is password protected. "If it is, then the argument that the employee has a reasonable expectation of privacy is strengthened. If not, then employers may have the justification to monitor the activities of that site." The key takeaway, the report concludes, is individuals should always be mindful of privacy settings on these sites, along with the corporate policy for using social media tools within the enterprise.