In our April issue, we wrote about the problem of clients logging on to consumer rating websites with posts critical of their therapy experience. It’s difficult or impossible for the clinician to respond due to privacy laws and other concerns.
Some physicians are asking new patients to sign a statement agreeing not to post reviews about their experience. But David Ballard, assistant executive director for marketing and business development at the American Psychological Association doesn’t advise practitioners to take that route.
“It’s not enforceable,” he says.
The whole issue of social media and how it relates to medical practice has become complex. So, the Mayo Clinic has come out with a series of videos on how health care providers should use social media and the web in general.
One very quirky animated video is called: “The new doctor-patient social media contract” and it addresses the topic of web-based critique sites. You can watch this video directly on YouTube by clicking here.
Two guys are having coffee at a Starbucks. One says to the other: “I went to the doctor today and the nurse gave me a form to sign. She told me the doctor would not see me unless I signed the form.”
His friend says that’s no big deal, it’s just about HIPAA and privacy issues. “That’s the problem,” his friend says. “It’s not about HIPAA. It said I cannot go to a website and rate the doctor or comment on my experience. I thought I had freedom of speech. Is this legal?”
“Oh my God,” his friend says. “That is sneaky. Whatever will they think of next? I know places that actually have Facebook sites and encourage patients to write about their experience.”
“So what should I do?”
The friend says: “How about you give the doctor a form to sign too. If she signs your form, you’ll sign her form. She has to sign a form saying she will not blog or tweet about you without your consent. Even if she does not use your name or her name on the post.”
“Wow. Gotcha. You are a genius.”
In other words, expect patient resistance if you try to prevent someone from rating your practice online. But there are other ways to address this problem, which are outlined in the Psyfin story.
Other Mayo Clinic videos make the point that whatever a clinician posts online stays there and may be subject to retrieval at any time. Conduct yourself accordingly on Facebook, Twitter and other sites.
“Anything online should be considered public, whether it’s a tweet, a blog, a comment,” one expert advises in the video. “Anything you post, think about it before you hit return.”
- John Nelander, Contributing Editor