How Doctors Can Avoid Social Media HIPAA Violations: It’s Not Rocket Science

flickr: ttarasiuk

The case of a Rhode Island physician fired and fined for violating HIPAA regulations on her personal Facebook page may have the unfortunate effect of discouraging some hospitals from embracing social media.

It shouldn’t. By following simple steps, the physician and hospital could have avoided the entire fiasco.

Here is what we know. According to the Boston Globe:

Dr. Alexandra Thran, 48, was fired from the hospital last year and reprimanded by the state medical board last week. The hospital took away her privileges to work in the emergency room for posting information online about a trauma patient.

Thran’s posting did not include the patient’s name, but she wrote enough that others in the community could identify the patient, according to a board filing. Thran, who did not return calls for comment yesterday, also was fined $500. Read more

How Hospitals Can Avoid a Social Media Crisis

flickr: erix!

A report from Altimeter Group released yesterday says social media crises are on the rise but, through proper preparation, can be avoided.

This is good news for hospital CEOs who view social media as a potential disaster waiting to happen. The report lists what organizations – including hospitals – can do to prepare. Read more

A “Pulse-Check” for Your Hospital’s Social Media

High-tech but "pulse-free"

In the article Seven Deadly Sins of Business Storytelling, written by Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith, the fourth sin is termed “Pulse-Free.” In their explanation, the authors write, “People connect with other people, so make sure you focus on the real-life characters of your story. It doesn’t matter if your organization designs computer hardware or sells medical devices, human beings are still driving the action.”

In hospitals, many of our services are attached to technology – the new open MRIs, SmartArc technology for more precise radiation treatments, digital mammography, lightspeed CTs… the list goes on. Read more

Advice for Building a Successful Online Community: Start Small, Grow Slow

In the arms race to grow bigger and bigger online social media communities, there is a contrarian voice.

His name is Richard Millington, and he’s an online community consultant who helps companies develop successful online communities. I recently discovered his blog at, and he was kind enough to take an interview today.

“Most organizations try to make every community or group they have bigger, but the people in the group never want it to be bigger,” Richard explains. “They want it to be as good as possible. That doesn’t necessarily mean more members. There are lots of ways to make a community better without making it bigger.” Read more

Honoring Copyright Part 2: Legal Ways to Use Common Social Media Logos

flickr: MikeBlogs

Last week I covered legal ways to use photography on your blog, but there was one important element I left out: how that translates to the use of a company’s logo. If you do a quick “images” search for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube in any search engine, you’ll see pages upon pages of logos, most of which appear to be fine to just download.

But just because you can do a Google search for a logo doesn’t mean it’s okay to take that logo and use it on your website, blog or even in print materials. So how then, are you supposed to know?

The good news is, I’ve done the work for you by summarizing the legal uses of several of the most popular social media platforms below — Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn® and YouTube. Read more