Social Media And Healthcare Research Paper

Length: 12 pages Sources: 12 Subject: Healthcare Type: Research Paper Paper: #25945795 Related Topics: Endorsement, Title Vii, Professionalism, Americans With Disabilities Act
Excerpt from Research Paper :

Legal Ethics of E-Mail and Social Media and Its Applicability to the Healthcare Industry

Consequences of Social Media


Perils of Building an Online Network


Caution with Employee Email Accounts


Issues when Endorsing other Companies


Benefits of Social Media



Legal Ethics of E-mail and Social Media and its Applicability to the Healthcare Industry

Social media has without a doubt changed the way we live, the way we view the world and the way we interact with one another. This paper acknowledges the undeniable good that social media has given us, while identifying the many ways that it has created issues and intricacies for the healthcare industry at large. This paper discusses the benefits of social media for healthcare professionals, while identifying some of the dire consequences, the perils of an online network, the issues connected to an employee email account and the caution one must take when it comes to endorsing products. Finally this paper concludes with a discussion of the benefits of social media to health care professionals.

The benefits of social media, e-mail and all forms of electronic communication are apparent in the world today. There's an ability to make friends from all over the world, to reconnect with old friends and to otherwise share one's life over the Internet. It allows for the creation of an online community and easier ways to stay in touch. However, in the world of professional healthcare, privacy and confidentiality aren't just an expected part of the overall professionalism; there are very real and very immediate legal obligations that are directly connected to protecting patient privacy. Thus, there needs to be a more aggravated responsibility towards protecting patient privacy when it comes to social media and the Internet. "Surveys show that 35% of American adults have a profile on a social networking site. Seventy-five percent of Facebook users admit to checking their Facebook at work, on company time and company-owned equipment. In 2004, more than 10% of employees spent more than half of the day on email (86% of which is personal), and more than one in five employers (21%) had employee email and instant messages subpoenaed in the course of a lawsuit or regulatory investigation" ( These numbers demonstrate just how widespread the use of social media and the Internet truly are when it comes to the healthcare industry and how this creates the potential for sticky legal issues and a compromising of legal data. However, the issue becomes even more complicated as more and more healthcare industries are relying on social media as a means of promoting themselves and reaching out to new clients and existing patients. However, with this increased usage comes even more heightened ethical concerns that warrant attention.

Pay Attention to Consequences

The only "right" involved when healthcare professionals post something on social media or on a social forum is the right they have to write or to exercise their freedom of speech. There are still formidable amounts of consequences which go along with this right and they must be faced by the healthcare professional. For example, if a doctor wants to share a meaningful discovery about a patient that she recently had and feels that the information could assist and enlighten other doctors, this is indeed worthwhile information to share. However, there's still a need to protect patient privacy. For example, the information posted needs to be so generic that there would be no way possible to identify a given patient. Even so, one still has the obligation to be mindful of the laws which govern patients and the healthcare arena.

For example, consider Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 this was something which truly altered the American landscape, because it not only disallowed racial discrimination in the job market, but racial and sex discrimination were outlawed as well (CAP, 2004). This means that when it comes to the professional arena, there's really no room for any remark or post on social media or any other form of electronic communication which indicates an element of discriminatory practice. "The Act indelibly changed life in America. 'Whites only' water fountains, pools and restaurants became illegal, and 'no blacks need apply' job announcements became a violation of federal law. Title VI provided a major tool in the desegregation of hospitals, nursing homes, and other health care facilities" (CAP, 2004). This act also helped an achieve a certain amount of victory for women...


Another piece of legislation which is in some way connected to this act is the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission which grew out of this act, which gave both women and minorities a more workable tool with which to shatter the oppression that they often faced in the workplace: "Overall, the Act was groundbreaking, and has given new hope, relief, and opportunity to countless Americans" (CAP, 2004). This means that since this act legally created a more tolerant playing field for women and minorities, there continues to be a more aggravated need and necessity to engage in the most respectful and politically correct manner regarding women and minorities in all arenas of the professional field -- this means social media and email as well. Thus, their equality needs to be protected, and healthcare professionals need to ensure that this occurs and is never compromised through anything that they post.

Another relevant piece of legislation that this all applies to is the Americans with Disabilities Act, which seeks to accomplish the integration of individuals with disabilities among all pillars of society, along with health care (Rosenbaum, 2013). However, the intricate web of federal and state pieces of legislature mean that public and private health care financing can be embedded within other markets and within federalism -- which can make certain healthcare goals for minorities and others somewhat aspirational. Thus, finding a way to reconcile the ADA's goals with the specific legal provisions in the U.S. healthcare system means that it is all formidable task for all involved, particularly when the regulatory focus is on healthcare professionals (Rosenbaum, 2013). Even so, when it comes to electronic communication, along with This means that healthcare professionals have to be careful in that nothing they post or write indicates a lack of following the ADA or is discriminatory against people with disabilities. For instance, one doctor posted something on Facebook that seemed to be harmlessly complaining about the use of emotional support animals on airplanes by individuals. This doctor was not complaining about any one patient or revealing information about any one patient, he was just griping about what he felt was an unfair and abused situation in general. Unfortunately, as a result of this post, the doctor received a ton of backlash from all over the world. He was accused of not only being intolerant, but of being discriminatory to people with disabilities.

One of the major dangers in connection with what healthcare professionals post is in direct connection to the Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). "HIPAA is the federal law that establishes standards for the privacy and security of health information, as well as standards for electronic data interchange (EDI) of health information. HIPAA has two main goals, as its name implies: making health insurance more portable when persons change employers, and making the health care system more accountable for costs -- trying especially to reduce waste and fraud" ( Thus, one of the main goals of HIPPA has been to improve accountability through administrative simplification via a promotion of efficiency and this is generally achieved through the better use of information technology. This was mostly because at the time this legislation was being enacted, healthcare was still very paper-based: however, the switch to more electronic records has been a double-edged sword, as a more increased use of computers means that there's a greater chance for the misuse of patient's health information which means that privacy and security standards have to be tougher.

Because these standards have to be tougher, clinicians and other health care professionals are thus held to higher standards of excellence and of conduct, and are expected to behave at more professional and intensive level of excellence. The four rules of HIPAA are intensive and they govern expectations for computer to computer information exchanges, along with identifiers for healthcare providers, along with information security standards, in conjunction with stringent privacy standards ( Thus, doctors need to be well aware of these standards and expectations which it comes to HIPAA and all connected concerns.

Building One's Online Network

Healthcare professionals need to be aware of the fact that they need to be extra discriminatory when it comes to who they accept as friends and who they allow to follow them on social networking sites. This is largely connected to the fact that accepting…

Sources Used in Documents:

References (2004, July 2). The Civil Rights Act 40 Years Later. Retrieved from

Car, J. (2004). Email consultations in health care: 2 -- acceptability and safe application. Retrieved from (2010, April 6). How Private Are Personal Emails Sent Via Employer Computers? Retrieved from (2005, May 14). Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Retrieved from (2014). Social Netowrking and the Medical Practice. Retrieved from (2014, June 17). Dr. Oz under fire for endorsing 'bogus' weight loss products. Retrieved from
Rosenbaum, S. (2014). The Americans with Disabilities Act in a Health Care Context. Retrieved from
Vaas, L. (2012, May 21). Doctors shouldn't buddy up with patients on Facebook or Twitter, hospitals warn. Retrieved from
Wingerter, J. (2013, March 22). Drug Money: How Pharmaceuticals Earn A Doctor's Endorsement. Retrieved from

Cite this Document:

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