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Should nurse practitioners communicate with their patients via social networking sites? This is a questions I am frequently asked. It’s been a topic of conversation on email list, social networking sites and at NP conferences. While I have written about it before (link to Advance article), I think it’s time to revisit this question.
My answer is simply no.
Here’s the deal. Communicating with your patients on a social networking site opens you up to potential for HIPAA violations. Additionally there is the possibility that patients may ask emergent questions which you may not see, or answer in a timely manner. And any communication online is subject to discovery should there be any legal incidents.
So how do I recommend that you communicate with your patients online? I think one of the simplest ways is for a nurse practitioner or the practice to have a Facebook page that is simple for businesses. The page is used to make practice wide announcements, do some patient education and remind patients to come in for things like flu vaccines or sports physicals.
It’s highly advisable to have a disclaimer on the site letting patients know that if they have questions they must contact the office directly as the FB page is not monitored regularly. You may even want to consider disabling comments on your page .
Make it an office policy that you and your staff will follow. Communicate this to patients. Let them know they can “Like” your page in order to get up to the date information and education from your practice, but it’s in their best interest to keep communication to the traditional lines…at least for now.
I love social media as a marketing tool, but I don’t feel it’s a smart communication tool. As far as I know, there has not yet been case law regarding communication via social networks. But as we all know it’s only a matter of time.
Let’s be real – social media is slowly starting to run the world. It holds an enormous amount of power over your brand and perception within the healthcare community. Some of the best patient feedback comes in through Facebook and Twitter, where you can connect with your patients on a new, more personable level. Think about it, the average social media user checks their Facebook daily, so why not put yourself out there in front of potential patients? If you need some convincing, we’ve compiled 7 surprising statistics about the top social networks for medical practices.
Image via PexelsHealthcare and Social Media Statistics1. 31% of health care professionals use social media for professional networking
Of the health care professionals who are utilizing social media, 60% of physicians say their most popular activity is following what colleagues are sharing and discussing. Over half a million healthcare professionals in the United States have chosen Doximity as their social network. By utilizing this medical network, physicians can stay connected with colleagues, classmates and co-residents. Physicians can even earn category 1 CME credits by reading medical journals available to them.
2. 26% of all hospitals in the US participate in social media
Source: Demi & Cooper Advertising and DC Interactive Group
Having a strong social media presence is a great way for physicians to connect with their patients. People are looking for online sources they can trust for information on a condition or sickness they may be experiencing. This is why it is incredibly important for medical practices and hospitals to not only keep up with the latest advancements in social media, but also publish thorough medical content that your patients can trust. Of more than 1,500 hospitals that have an online presence, Facebook has shown to be the most popular social media network amongst them.
3. 54% of patients are very comfortable with their providers seeking advice from online communities to better treat their conditions
While this may not seem important to you, this is actually a crucial statistic in the healthcare industry. Because the Internet has allowed instant communication between individuals, no matter where they are located, it is now easier than ever before for doctors to help one another solve a difficult medical case. Apps like Figure1 allow for doctors to communicate with one another, which could end up cutting the amount of time needed to solve a medical problem and saving a patient’s life.
4. 41% of people said social media would affect their choice of a specific doctor, hospital, or medical facility
Source: Demi & Cooper Advertising and DC Interactive Group
Think about it – when someone fears they have a health issue, what is the first thing they do? Google it. Now, times are changing and patients are starting to head to social media first instead. Statistics have shown 30% of adults are likely to share information about their health on social media sites with other patients, 47% with doctors, 43% with hospitals, 38% with a health insurance company and 32% with a drug company.
5. 90% of adults ages 18-24 would trust medical information shared by others in their social media networks
Source: Search Engine Watch
Everyone knows millennials have completely taken over the world of social media. Millennials grew up using the Internet as their primary news source, so it is makes perfect sense that they are more likely to trust medical information on social media. All you need to do is start the conversation, and your target audience will find you.
6. 49% of people expect to hear from their physician when requesting an appointment or follow-up discussion via social media within a few hours
Source: HealthCare Finance News
It’s time to accept that a majority of your patients are on social media, so why not use it to your advantage? By utilizing direct message features, patients are able to contact their physicians and request appointments. Since social media is mostly done in real time, patients are likely utilizing this feature to schedule a quick appointment without the hassle of making a phone call. ZocDoc is another quick and easy way that physicians can allow their patients to make hassle-free appointments online.
7. 19% of smartphone owners have at least one health app on their phone
Source: Demi & Cooper Advertising and DC Interactive Group
Studies have suggested that in the near future, patients will use health apps as their preferred medical resource. Two-thirds of Americans have already shown to favor digital health management, including social media. Due to the fact that our lives are filled with healthcare apps, social media, and wearable health devices, it’s crucial for doctors to be well educated on these technologies so they can better reach potential patients.
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Via Ozil Conseil
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Germany is to consider new laws that would force social media platforms such as Facebook and search engines such as Google to take a more active role in policing illegal hate speech on their sites.
Measures considered by Angela Merkel’s coalition government include forcing companies to set up clear channels for registering complaints, to publish the number of complaints they receive and to hire legally qualified ombudsmen to carry out deletions.
Facebook's plan to tackle fake news raises questions over limitations
Online platforms that fail meet such legal requirements could be hit with fines calculated on the basis of their global annual turnover, or face on-the-spot fines of up to €500,000 if they neglect to remove posts in breach of German hate speech law within 24 hours.
Concerns over social media’s power to fire up populist narratives and boost conspiracy theories has increased after Britain’s vote to leave the European Union and Donald Trump’s shock election in November, with politicians across Europe looking anxiously ahead to elections in France and Germany next year.
In Germany, which has some of the toughest laws around hate speech – including prison sentences for Holocaust denial and inciting hatred against minorities – political frustration with tech companies’ refusal to take responsibility for content posted on their sites has increased markedly in recent months.
A hate speech taskforce including representatives from Google, Facebook and Twitter, set up by German justice minister Heiko Maas in autumn 2015, vowed to aim to delete illegal postings within 24 hours. But a government report published in late September this year found that tech companies were still struggling to react adequately to breaches of law, with Facebook only deleting 46%, YouTube 10% and Twitter 1% of illegal content flagged up by normal, non-privileged users.
According to a investigation by Süddeutsche Zeitung, Facebook currently employs about 600 people via the service provider Arvato to each carry out 2,000 deletions per day on its German-language accounts. But German officials say they have received no such information from the tech companies themselves.
If another report due at the start of next year showed no further improvement, the German government would take steps towards sanctioning companies, Maas told The Observer.
“We are already looking in detail at how we can make providers of online platforms criminally liable for undeleted content that breaks German law. Of course, if other measures don’t work we also need to think about fines. That would be a strong incentive for quick action.”
While German law currently sets an upper limit of €10 million for the amount companies can be fined for criminal offences, the justice ministry is independently looking into whether fines in the future can be calculated on the basis of a company’s global annual turnover.
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“We urgently need more transparency,” said Maas, a member of the centre-left Social Democratic party. “We could imagine obliging social networks to publish at regular intervals how many complaints they have received about illegal hate speech and how they dealt with them. That way it would be visible for everyone how many complaints there are and how many deletions. That too would increase the pressure on Facebook, Twitter, Google and others.
“Companies that make money with their social networks have social obligations – it cannot be in any company’s interest that their platform is used to commit crimes”, he said.
While the debate in Germany has mostly focused on postings on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, such law changes would also have wide-ranging consequences for the Google search engine.
Last Sunday, an Observer article pointed out that the top Google search result for the question “Did the Holocaust happen” linked to an article on a neo-Nazi website. While typing the same question in German into German Google does not yield this link, the first page of results still includes links to Holocaust-denial articles.
According to Christian Solmecke, a Cologne lawyer specialising in hate-speech offences, such statements are “unequivocally” covered by section 130, paragraph 3 of the German criminal code, which states that “whosoever publicly or in a meeting approves of, denies or downplays an act committed under the rule of National Socialism [...] in a manner capable of disturbing the public peace shall be liable to imprisonment not exceeding five years or a fine.”
While Google does not have to seek out illegal content out of its own accord, it has to react to any complaint, whether by deletion or by blocking access, Solmecke said: “According to German law, a complaint would immediately oblige Google to delete such content and avoid a future repeat of such a violation”.
Unlike the three social media sites at the heart of the German government’s current investigation – Facebook, Twitter and Google-owned Youtube – the search engine itself does not offer a prominently displayed channel for lodging complaints, such as Facebook’s abuse button.
A “send feedback” window at the bottom of Google’s search page allows ordinary users to message the search engine, but since there is no separate field for contact details, the process is a one-way street. The Guardian used the feedback box to Google about a link to a website by Ursula Haverbeck – a prominent German holocaust denier who has been repeatedly sent to prison under the incitement of hatred law – but the website was still listed as one of the engine’s top search results 24 hours later.
Josef Schuster, the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, called on Google and other tech companies to take a more active role in stopping the spread of hate speech online. “Websites that deny the Holocaust, stoke antisemitism and resentments against minorities, or spread other inhuman messages, are completely unacceptable”, Schuster said.
Via Charles Tiayon