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Facebook and Physicians – Following HIPAA Regulations

November 9, 2012

healthcare marketing scottsdale

There has been a lot of talk recently regarding HIPAA, healthcare marketing and physicians on Facebook. And, to be honest, most of the talk has been untruthful and negative. Yes, physicians can increase their brand presence on Facebook and create engaging content for their patients and audience while still adhering to HIPAA regulations. The key to HIPAA-approved healthcare marketing on Facebook is a bit of common sense, mixed with a bit of know-how.


1. Think Before You Post – Never, ever throw up a Facebook post without special consideration. Is it an appropriate post? Is it related to the medical field and your brand? Is it relevant to your audience? Does it mention patient names, locations, symptoms or specific diagnosis? Imagine standing in your office waiting area and announcing the status update to everyone who is listening. Would anyone in that room be offended or know who you were talking about? If not, it’s good to go!
2. Ask Permissions – Yes, you can run contests and post user generated stories that patients have provided, but it must be done in accordance with HIPAA. For example, just last year Children’s Hospital LA launched a campaign to collect patient stories to use in a “Share Your Story” campaign. The ultimate goal of this campaign was to increase brand visibility and improve their overall reputation by sharing inspiring and positive stories. In order to remain HIPAA-safe, they required patients to follow a three-step-process that involved reviewing a “Use and Access” Statement, reviewing hospital HIPAA policy, and finally filling out a secure web form where they could include their story and photo to be reviewed by hospital staff. It was a highly successful healthcare marketing campaign that maintained HIPAA regulations. If you plan to publish or make public any patient information, it is a must that you get permissions first.
3. Keep It Professional – As a physician with an engaging Facebook account you will no doubt receive many questions related to healthcare. For example, we manage the online social presence for Arizona OBGYN Affiliates. This thriving Facebook page receives the occasional personal health question from Facebook Fans and users. In remaining congruent with HIPAA, we kindly give the questioner an overview of their health situation and offer them a direct phone number to a location closest to them. Keep in mind these questions often come through Facebook Messages, which are private between the questioner and the doctor. However, even in these private situations it’s best to remain vague and yet offer as much actionable help as possible.


HIPAA is not entirely as confusing or ‘scary’ as many physicians and medical offices believe. In fact, if you simply use a bit of common sense, offer advice and healthcare information yet remain distant from specific medical happenings that occur at your offices, you will be fine. As always, contact the experts at Quaintise for more information on following HIPAA regulations while maintaining an engaging, popular and thriving Facebook presence.


About Quaintise and Facebook Marketing

Quaintise uses Facebook, as well as many other social platforms, in all healthcare marketing plans. With Facebook, anything is possible. Want to increase website traffic? Perhaps you're looking to increase patient referrals? Maybe it's time to augment your brand with improved brand visibility and awareness. With social media marketing that adheres to HIPAA regulations, and the experts at Quaintise, the sky is the limit. Visit our LA QDigital location at 10100 Santa Monica Blvd, Suite 300, Los Angeles, California 90067, (310) 736-1752 or our main headquarters in Scottsdale at 7150 E. Camelback Road, Suite 444, Scottsdale, Arizona, 85251, (602) 910-4112.