I was speaking with one of our clients the other day and we were discussing the ramifications of HIPAA laws as it relates to social media marketing for healthcare providers.

The fact is, the DHHS already offers guidance on how to effectively use digital communications channels. However, proper compliance vis a vis HIPAA is sometimes difficult to decipher (CMS does offer a basic overview, here).

Nowhere is this more difficult and challenging than in the realm of social media.

With my extensive healthcare experience and background, I am deeply familiar with importance of making sure that your social media pages are HIPAA compliant and do not in any way compromise the privacy and dignity of your patients and residents.

Nevertheless, it is important to keep the ‘Social’ in Social Media and not suck the life out of it, or it defeats the purpose and value of this platform altogether.

This is a problem I encounter very often with healthcare providers, who are afraid to the point of paralysis. It is a mistake to think that you cannot have a perfectly engaging and robust social media platform without sacrificing patient/resident privacy.

Let me be clear and unequivocal:

Engaging in proper social media activities, needn’t require that you post a photo of a resident on Facebook altogether, much less one who isn’t agreeable, or alert and oriented.

Social Media can be accomplished with a kaleidoscope of meaningful posts and write ups related to facility initiatives, upcoming programs and activities, inspirational photos and posts, daily health tips, facility awards and recognition and so much more!

It may also be accomplished with photos of fully agreeable residents who are engaged in an activity (for example).

The problem healthcare providers make, is when they erroneously believe that their target audience will actually care about their social media pages that they either don’t use (or allow to stagnate and remain dormant for longer than acceptable intervals), or use in a very ‘stuffy’ and ‘corporate’ manner, that is hardly engaging, if not downright tedious.

Social media as a concept, is to ENGAGE in meaningful conversation with your audience.

If you want to retain your clients and their families online and keep them coming back to your pages, you cannot strip the basic element of humanity from your social media content.

Take the “social” out of social media and you are left with nothing but a generic advertisement published in the wrong venue.

Something to think about.

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