Crozer-Keystone Implements Social Media Policy - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Crozer-Keystone Implements Social Media Policy

Magnet Demonstration: As nurses utilize social media tools carefully and professionally following the new social media policy, they exemplify nursing excellence. The ANCC in the Magnet Recognition Program Manual advocates that nurses use available resources to address complex ethical issues and resolve issues related to patient privacy, security and confidentiality. The following article describes how we support this process.  

For healthcare providers like Crozer-Keystone Health System (CKHS), providing patients and the public with pertinent health information has never been easier thanks to social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  

“We want to use social media as a way to communicate with our patients, let them know about what services are available and provide them with the opportunity to get to know some of the staff who provide these services,” says Stephen Boff, vice president and chief compliance officer at CKHS “These platforms can be very effective tools for communication, but if not used properly, they can also be dangerous.” 

Boff is referring to the posting of information that might compromise a patient’s privacy.

“We’ve heard of instances elsewhere involving a hospital staff member who has seen an interesting X-ray, taken a picture of it with a cell phone and then attached the picture to an e-mail message” says Boff. “That is a clear invasion of the patient’s privacy and would be a violation of CKHS’ policy if that occurred in one of our hospitals. We don’t want patients to be concerned that their medical information – an x-ray, for example – is going to be a topic for discussion all over the internet.” 

According to Boff, there are some instances when patients may wish to discuss their medical condition through a CKHS social media website, such as a support platform for recovery. However, in those cases, disclosure of personal health information is at the discretion of the patient not the CKHS staff member who manages our websites.  

“We want to reduce the risk of a privacy breach on a CKHS sponsored social media website, so we have identified people who are responsible for controlling the content on these sites,” says Boff. “These employees are frequently reviewing the information that is posted and comments that may follow.” 

Boff adds that employees certainly have First Amendment rights when they use their own personal social media websites. However, if they are representing CKHS, they should use good judgment and communicate in a way that maintains patient privacy and reflects well on the health system.   

Failure to follow CKHS’ guidelines for using social media could result in disciplinary action. Boff urges employees to review and remember the following guidelines:

  • Never post information that can be used to identify a specific patient or patient’s condition in any way

  • Do not disclose propriety financial, intellectual property, patient care or similar sensitive or private content

  • Make it clear when you are not speaking as an official representative of CKHS and that you are expressing your personal views and opinions

  • If identified as associated with CKHS through social media, communicate in ways that reflect favorably upon CKHS colleagues, leaders, patients and donors

  • Only post respectful comments and refrain from ones that are off-topic and offensive

  • If someone from the news media contacts you about social media posts that relate to CKHS, alert the vice president of marketing before responding

  • Don’t send emails containing patient information outside of the CKHS e-mail system

“We are trying to use social media to achieve our marketing and communication goals,” says Boff. “But, what comes first is patient privacy and we must always keep that in mind when relaying information to the public.”  

A video about Crozer-Keystone’s social media policy can be found on the Crozer-Keystone intranet. The video can also be found on Crozer-Keystone’s YouTube channel.

If you are a Facebook user, you can “like” Crozer-Keystone’s page. You can also “follow” Crozer-Keystone on Twitter.