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The Devastating Effects of Social Media in Healthcare

The Devastating Effects of Social Media in Healthcare

HIPAA Social Media Do’s and Don’ts in Healthcare

There are many benefits to social media in the healthcare industry, however, there is also huge potential for HIPAA violations of patient privacy to be violated on social media networks.  The Privacy Rule protects All “individually identifiable health information” held or transmitted by a covered entity or its business associate, in any form or media, whether electronic, paper or oral. The Privacy Rule calls this information “protected health information (PHI).”

Did you know that more than 71% of recorded data breaches in the healthcare industry are attributable to employee actions?

The most important rule is to never share Protected Health Information or Personally Identifiable Information on social media. Social media may include personal blogs and other websites, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, or others of the like.

A few common identifiers include but are not limited to:

    • demographic data
    • medical histories
    • test results
    • insurance information
    • and other information used to identify a patient or provide healthcare services or healthcare coverage.

What is a breach and what can I do to avoid it?

 A breach is, generally, an impermissible use or disclosure under the Privacy Rule that compromises the security or privacy of the protected health information. This means employees should refrain from posting, commenting, or sharing patient information on social media including patient names, photos, and descriptors that would identify the patient.

What is considered identifiable information?

The most common social media HIPAA violations include:

    • Posting of images and videos of patients without written consent
    • Posting of gossip about patients
    • Posting of any information that could allow an individual to be identified
    • Sharing of photographs or images taken inside a healthcare facility in which patients or PHI are visible
    • Sharing of photos, videos, or text on social media platforms within a private group

“Friending” patients on social media websites is also strongly discouraged. This can lead to accidental identifying of patients, especially if your place of work is listed in your profile and accidental ‘discussion’ about the patient’s care. Therefore, employees in inpatient care roles generally should not initiate or accept friend requests. Do not enter into social media discussions with patients who have disclosed PHI on social media.

Employees should also refrain from messaging or texting PHI or PII on social media or messaging applications not approved by your organization. In general, no personally identifiable health information should be sent in any manner which does not ensure communication encryption in transit and at rest.

So, what do you do if you think you may have exposed a patient’s protected health information or personally identifiable information?

In general, it’s advised to, follow your organization’s Incident Response Policy immediately and notify your supervisor and/or designated HIPAA Security Officer for immediate next steps.

At Live Compliance, we make checking off your compliance requirements extremely simple.

    • Reliable and Effective Compliance
    • Completely online, our role-based courses make training easy for remote or in-office employees.
    • Contact-free, accurate Security Risk Assessments are conducted remotely. All devices are thoroughly analyzed regardless of location. Conducting an accurate and thorough Security Risk Assessment is not only required but is a useful tool to expose potential vulnerabilities.
    • Policies and Procedures are curated to fit your organization ensuring employees are updated on all Workstation Use and Security Safeguards in the office, or out. Update in real-time.
    • Electronic, prepared document sending and signing to employees and business associates.

Don’t risk your company’s future, especially when we are offering a free Organization Assessment to help determine your company’s status. Call us at (980) 999-1585, or email me, Jim Johnson at Jim@LiveCompliance.com or visit www.LiveCompliance.com

For more information about DarkWeb breaches please contact us at (980) 999-1585 or email us at support@livecompliance.com


ABOUT EZCLAIM:
As a medical billing expert, EZClaim can help the medical practice improve its revenues since it is a medical billing and scheduling software company. EZClaim provides a best-in-class product, with correspondingly exceptional service and support. Combined, EZClaim helps improve medical billing revenues. To learn more, visit EZClaim’s website, email them, or call them today at 877.650.0904.

Failing to Implement HIPAA Causes Large Fine

Failing to Implement HIPAA Causes Large Fine

Failing to implement HIPAA causes a large fine for a small-town North Carolina health services provider. They were fined $25,000 for multiple, easily avoidable, HIPAA violations for “longstanding, systemic non-compliance” with the HIPAA Security Rule. [ Note: The provider is a part of a health center that offers discounted medical services to the underserved population in rural NC, and the fines were reduced in consideration of this, but it still resulted in a significant monetary loss ].

In 2011, Metropolitan Community Health Services (Metro), doing business as Agape Health Services, filed a breach report regarding “the impermissible disclosure of protected health information to an unknown email account.” The breach affected over 1,200 patients!

In addition to the large monetary penalty, the practice is required to develop and adopt a corrective action plan (which includes two years of thorough monitoring) after the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) discovered that Metro failed to conduct a thorough and comprehensive HIPAA Security Risk Assessment and Analysis. In addition, Metro did not implement a single HIPAA Security Rule Policy and Procedure for the health center. Possibly worst of all, Metro failed to provide workforce members with HIPAA Privacy and Security Awareness training until 2016!

Patients must trust with who they share their personal, private, and protected health information. A breach such as this is obviously devastating for the patient, in addition to their doctor’s reputation. So, how can physicians ensure that they are meeting the HIPAA requirements and have proper safeguards in place to avoid this sort of breach?

First off, an accurate and thorough Security Risk Assessment and Analysis must be conducted to expose and target any potential administrative, physical, and technical vulnerabilities. Doing so highlights any major flaws in a practice’s administrative and technical safeguards, and accentuates the policies and procedures that the practice needs to implement.

In addition to that, the designated HIPAA Privacy and Security Officer must ensure that ALL employees complete HIPAA Workforce training. All employees of the practice, including the physicians, must take HIPAA training to ensure employees have a clear understanding of the HIPAA Privacy Rule and actionable policies and procedures.

So, remember, healthcare organizations and their vendors have a responsibility to be HIPAA compliant, and that starts by performing, updating, or reviewing an accurate and thorough Security Risk Assessment covering your technical, administrative, and physical safeguards. This will help uncover any vulnerabilities, and help you understand what information is being transmitted, shared, and how it is being transmitted.

 

TAKEAWAYS AND THINGS TO CONSIDER:

  • Complete a Security Risk Assessment and establish a Corrective Action Plan that is accurate and thorough.
 Remediate any potential risks or vulnerabilities.
  • A Security Risk Assessment will target vulnerabilities related to what is potentially exposing Protected Health Information (PHI)
  • Develop actionable policies and procedures that clearly outline disclosures of PHI
  • Ensure all employees have a clear understanding of the HIPAA Privacy rule and its policies and procedures

 

Live Compliance provides everything you need to become and maintain your organization’s HIPAA compliance requirements. All policies and procedures can be edited and shared directly with staff from your staff portal. Training are delivered and monitored within your portal, can be customized, role-based, and be accessed anytime and from anywhere. You can also easily send and monitor HIPAA training with one click.

Failing to implement HIPAA can cause tremendous problems and use precious resources and time to implement. Live Compliance makes it 10X easier than trying to do it on your own.

So, take advantage of Live Compliance’s FREE Organization Needs Assessment to understand your immediate compliance needs. For additional details, e-mail Jim Johnson (at jim@livecompliance.com), call (980) 999-1585, or visit their website at livecompliance.com/oa

Live Compliance is a partner of EZClaim, a medical billing software company. For more details about their solutions, visit their website at ezclaim.com.

[ Written by Jim Johnson, President of Live Compliance ]