Elder abuse online continues to be an issue, and continues to be underscored in the news. Social media has become a necessity for communicating value, positioning your organization as the provider of choice in the community and as a customer service vehicle. However, the healthcare industry continues to contend with the fact that social media has great power – for good and for bad. One result of an organization’s use of social media marketing is that it encourages employee use of social media – whether expressly by engaging personnel online (which can be extremely productive when done correctly) or simply by example. If we use it shouldn’t they?
There has been increased awareness recently of healthcare professionals and their personal use of social media. Great care should be taken in training your professionals, both on best practices to avoid the most innocent of “overshares”, and communicating the consequences to those with more malicious intentions.
Nursing homes and assisted living facilities, sadly, are seeing some of the worst elder abuses via social media. This goes beyond HIPAA violations to include moral and ethical violations as well.
ProPublica recently published an article on the topic saying, “In a letter sent Tuesday to the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., referenced a ProPublica story from last year that identified about three dozen inappropriate posts by employees of nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Some included naked photos and videos of residents, many of whom have dementia.
“This type of abuse is unacceptable and falls short of our moral obligation to the ‘least of these’ in our society,” Carper, ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said in a statement. “We all want our loved ones to receive the quality of care and attention they deserve from the professionals to whom we entrust their care.”
The article does go on to point out that, if there is a silver lining, these photos and videos have brought to light abusive treatment that may have otherwise gone undiscovered. These posts have underscored the need to identify and root out abusers, making them examples in the healthcare community.
+ if you are a family member concerned about abuse visit this link for advice
+ if you are a healthcare professional suspecting abuse, report your concerns immediately
+ consider maintaining separate personal and professional social media accounts if you wish to connect with patients and families
+ NEVER post anything about any individual under your care (no photos, videos or even text) online
+ if you feel photos of a condition would make it easier to communicate with a care provider, seek supervisor guidance and never use your personal mobile phone or camera
+ have a written set of social media guidelines in place and actively train on those guidelines regularly
+ identify a process for reporting social media concerns and identify the person within your organization responsible for addressing these concerns
+ understand what you can and cannot do – some companies maintain policies that spell out if you’re allowed to check up on employee personal social media profiles or not
+ if an inappropriate or abusive post is brought to your attention by a co-worker on an employee’s profile (a common way these posts are discovered), seek guidance before taking action (some employee posts may be protected communications under labor law)
Have questions? Contact us at 480-270-5395 to learn more about our custom training solutions for healthcare professionals and healthcare leadership.
*image courtesy of Ulrich Joho via Flickr*