Many dentists and dental office employees don’t realize that any social media discussion of patient treatment – even posts that do not identify a patient by name – can violate HIPAA.
Because social media is still evolving, most offices have no social media policy and haven’t given much thought to how they guard against patient privacy breaches via Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets.
A Social Media Consent is essential when asking patients for comments or other information that might appear in a social media post. At the end of this year, Smart Training is updating its HIPAA Compliance Notebook to include a Social Media Consent form.
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The form allows the patient to consent, in writing, to the use of an approved photograph of the patient along with a brief description of treatment for promotional purposes.
Of course, the patient may revoke Social Media Consent at any time merely by notifying the office that the patient wishes the practice to discontinue using the photograph and description.
Willingness to participate in social media must have no effect on the treatment patients receive in dental offices. If patients decline to allow their photos and descriptions to be used, the treatment they receive must not be affected.