Keeping Your Eye Care Practice HIPAA Compliant on Social Media

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Having an effective social media strategy is essential to growing your eyecare practice. You want to promote your brand, share your optometric expertise, and, of course, patient testimonials.

However, it's equally important to understand social media HIPAA compliance requirements in order to ensure that you're keeping patients' data private and secure.

With the push to maintaining a social media presence in order to attract new patients and retain current ones, simple mistakes can cause major problems for healthcare professionals.

The question becomes: how can healthcare professionals ensure that their social media plan is effective at finding new patients while also maintaining HIPAA compliance standards?

Below, we dive into some of the major concerns regarding HIPAA and social media to help healthcare professionals protect their patients' sensitive data.

Download Your Free HIPAA Media Release Form

What Can I Post on Social Media?

When posting on social media, the first thing all healthcare professionals must remember is that posts should never contain information regarding individual patients or their medical records, treatments, or history. 

HIPAA sets standards for maintaining the privacy and security of protected health information (PHI), which also applies to social media. PHI is any demographic information that can be used to identify a patient. Common examples of PHI include a patient's name, date of birth, address, Social Security number, medical record, financial information, and full facial photo, to name a few. 

HIPAA regulation does not allow healthcare professionals to use PHI in any marketing or social media campaigns without explicit patient consent. Posting PHI should be avoided to protect your patients' privacy and to keep your practice safe from potential HIPAA violations.

Given the power of patient testimonials, EyeCarePro has a generic waiver that you can use to get the legal consent required to put these trust-building assets out on social media, YouTube, and your website. Just fill out the form to download the media release form.

portrait of smiling professional optometrist in glasses posing with crossed arms in optical

With that being said, here is a list of some things that can be posted on social media:

  • Healthcare tips for patients 
  • Events that your patients can attend
  • New research or findings related to your field
  • Honors or awards that your practice has won
  • Bios or profiles of employees and staff members
  • Advertisements for your services as long as the post DOES NOT CONTAIN THE PHI of any patient

HIPAA Compliance and Social Media

Guidance on social media usage has been issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In addition, HHS has put together a tool that healthcare professionals can use to ensure that their practice's social media program is HIPAA compliant.

Healthcare professionals also must ensure that they have policies and procedures in place documenting your social media program. Employees must be trained on these policies and procedures and receive annual social media awareness training.

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