HIPAA and Social Media

Duration: 90 Minutes
Instructor: Jim Sheldon Dean
Webinar Id: 800416


One Attendee


We will discuss how providers and patients want to use social media for communications and how they may cause privacy and security issues.

In order to integrate the use of social networking into patient communications, it is essential to perform the proper steps in an information privacy and security compliance process to evaluate and address the risks of using the technology. The process must include consideration of various patient access requirements in the HIPAA Privacy Rule, including new requirements to provide patients electronic access of electronically held PHI which raise new questions of how that access will be provided and how the information will be protected during and after access. And there has long been a HIPAA requirement for covered entities to do their best to meet the requests of their patients for particular modes of communication, and using social networking is no exception.

We will review policies and procedures, documentation, major compliance areas and training to ensure they are updated to meet these new challenges of Social Media.

We will discuss how providers and patients want to use social media for communications and how they may cause privacy and security issues. We will explore how requirements under the Privacy Rule, as explained in guidance from the US Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights, allow patients to choose their communication method, with new rules for electronic access of records held electronically.

Learn about using an integrated information security management process to integrate new technologies into business processes safely and securely.

Discover how your information security Risk Analysis must be updated to include social media, and how a lack of consideration for new technologies can lead to breaches and enforcement actions.

Learn about the importance of policies and procedures and documentation of their training and use in order to provide the proper privacy and security protections and preparation for the new random audit program, now getting under way.

We will also explain how any improper exposure of PHI may result in an official breach that must be reported to the individual and to the US Department of Health and Human Services. At the same time, complaints by a patient if they are not afforded the access they desire can bring about HHS inquiries and enforcement actions. We will discuss how to find the right balance of access and control.

The session will discuss the uses patients and providers have for social media and what must be considered for compliance, and provide a road map for how to use them safely and effectively, to increase the quality of health care and patient satisfaction, and avoid breaches and penalties.

Why should you attend: It seems everyone is signing up for social media and wants to use it in all the incredible ways it can be used, including for health care purposes. Social networking sites offer individuals new ways to relate to each other and share experiences.

The Internet has changed the way people communicate and introduced new risks into the process of providing health care services. Patients want to be able to communicate with their health care providers, and providers want to communicate with their patients, using social networking sites. But communications using social networking sites has some inherent privacy and security risks that may put providers out of compliance. New technologies present new challenges to health care providers, as there are simultaneously new requirements to share information with patients, and a new enforcement effort to ensure the privacy and security of Protected Health Information (PHI). Meeting both challenges requires careful consideration of all the regulations and technologies, as well as patient preferences and work flow.

The stakes are high – any improper exposure of PHI may result in an official breach that must be reported, at great cost and with the potential to bring fines and other enforcement actions. But if a patient complains that they are not afforded the access they desire HHS inquiries and enforcement actions can result, so it is essential to find the right balance of access and control.

HHS compliance audit activity and enforcement penalties are both increased, especially in instances of willful neglect of compliance, if, for instance, your organization hasn't adopted the complete suite of policies and procedures needed for compliance, or hasn’t adequately considered the impact of social networking on your compliance. It is essential to consider social networking sites and how their use affects the privacy and security of PHI; not doing so is inviting enforcement action by HHS.

Areas Covered in the Session:

  • How patients would like to use social media in their health care
  • How providers would like to use social media to deliver health care services
  • The risks of using Social Media for healthcare purposes
  • Using Risk Analysis to determine proper uses of social media in health care
  • The penalties for non-compliance with HIPAA when using Social Media
  • How the HHS HIPAA Audit program might look at social media usage
  • The importance of accepting and working with Social Media
  • Policies and Procedures for compliant use of Social Media
  • The role of training in using Social Media in health care

Who Will Benefit:
  • Compliance Director
  • CEO
  • CFO
  • Privacy Officer
  • Security Officer
  • Information Systems Manager
  • HIPAA Officer
  • Chief Information Officer
  • Health Information Manager
  • Healthcare Counsel/lawyer
  • Office Manager
  • Contracts Manager

Speaker Profile
Jim Sheldon-Dean is the founder and director of compliance services at Lewis Creek Systems, LLC, a Vermont-based consulting firm founded in 1982, providing information privacy and security regulatory compliance services to a wide variety of health care entities.

Sheldon-Dean serves on the HIMSS Information Systems Security Workgroup, has co-chaired the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange Privacy and Security Workgroup, and is a recipient of the WEDI 2011 Award of Merit. He is a frequent speaker regarding HIPAA and information privacy and security compliance issues at seminars and conferences, including speaking engagements at numerous regional and national healthcare association conferences and conventions and the annual NIST/OCR HIPAA Security Conference in Washington, D.C.

Sheldon-Dean has more than 30 years of experience in policy analysis and implementation, business process analysis, information systems and software development. His experience includes leading the development of health care related Web sites; award-winning, best-selling commercial utility software; and mission-critical, fault-tolerant communications satellite control systems. In addition, he has eight years of experience doing hands-on medical work as a Vermont certified volunteer emergency medical technician. Sheldon-Dean received his B.S. degree, summa cum laude, from the University of Vermont and his master's degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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