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Posted on 10.29.2010

Newly Published and Upcoming Resources for Healthcare Use of Social Media

Hospitals and providers are riding the social media wave and, finally, tools and ethical guides for appropriate usage are emerging. Both the CDC and the Ohio State Medical Association published manuals recently, and leading provider associations are in the process of offering their own codes of conduct. These tools are definitely materializing none too soon! Approximately 20 percent of hospitals nationwide are already using social media in a variety of innovative ways. Additionally, more than 1,300 doctors are registered on TwitterDoctor alone! In fact, a 2009 Manhattan Research study indicates that 60 percent of doctors said they want to participate in social media…and that was a while back in the world of social media expansion. Provider associations are now coming to the table with some solutions. The American Medical Association’s Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs will present a report on the ethical use of social media in healthcare at the House of Delegates' Interim Meeting in November. And, The American College of Physicians' Center for Ethics and Professionalism is collaborating with the AMA’s Council of Associates to create a revised ethics manual and a social media policy. (Perhaps most telling, without waiting for their report on the subject, the AMA launched both a Facebook page and a YouTube channel in September.) Offering what may be the most credible resource to date, The Mayo Clinic has announced the upcoming launch of The Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media, building on the Clinic’s tremendous success in this arena. Reports indicate that the Center will provide one-on-one training, training boot camps at Mayo, training at a participant site, online training, as well as other coaching, consulting and conferences. Recent publications coming out of Ohio and Washington, D.C., offer more immediate guidance. The Ohio State Medical Association’s Social Networking and the Medical Practice: Guidelines for Physicians, Office Staff, and Patients is a tremendous resource for medical providers and facilities to use when designing their social media presence. This guide includes a broad array of best practices and offers some basic examples of social media policies for medical organizations. It also points to another helpful online resource, the Healthcare Blogger Code of Ethics. Additionally, this summer the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) compiled The Health Communicator’s Social Media Toolkit, although this handbook takes a completely different approach.  Here you will find a catalogue of social media tools and guidelines for deciding which tool is most applicable to your organization’s situation. It also offers lessons learned from the CDC’s social media experience. However, because their communications focus on information related to public health trends and concerns, they do not delve much into concerns related to individually identifiable health information and tools to encourage HIPAA-compliance. For that kind of guidance you may want to access some previously published information on social media and HIPAA from the Lovell blog. What resources have you found most valuable as you grow your social media presence?

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