Health IT Pulse

May 23 2012   1:53PM GMT

HIT social media and HIPAA compliance: Never the twain shall meet?

Don Fluckinger Profile: Don Fluckinger

health care social media
HIPAA Compliance

In the week following the debut of publicly traded Facebook stock, some water-cooler-discussion-provoking articles have caught our eye. Of course, for the folks on our team who work remotely, instant messenger serves as the virtual water cooler. Same diff.

Check them out:

  • In what the blissfully wedded Mark Zuckerberg and new wife – and physician-to-be Priscilla Chan – claim was a coincidence of timing the day after the Facebook IPO, the U.S. health care system got a young, influential representative in Zuck’s ear. That led to many speculative Tweets among physicians and HIT policy thoughtleaders on how that might impact health care in regards to Facebook features and usage. Our guess? Zuckerberg’s next act could very well be whole new site – a more locked-down, HIPAA-oriented, health-care-facing social media site. That is, once he sees the perils of physicians using Facebook for health care.
  • Speaking of which, hats off to Computerworld’s Lucas Mearian, who broke down the perils of physicians using social media sites in a fantastic, detailed article. Turns out, he found that it’s not just HIPAA, but other legal ramifications that drive physicians to create alter egos for public sites and to seek out private, proprietary networking sites to conduct curbside consults with their peers.
  • This morning, CNN reported that IBM has banned Siri, the iPhone virtual assistant who talks like a representative from the Borg, because Apple’s tracking too much information and Big Blue is worried about privacy. This should give health care CIOs – and the compliance officers with whom they work to develop HIPAA-friendly EHR implementations – pause. What are the privacy policy implications of chatting with Siri about the asthmatic Medicaid patient in room 14 with the dragon tattoo getting tested for bird flu, whether or not you mention a Social Security number? If Siri steps over the line, we’re pretty sure HHS’s Office of Civil Rights – and perhaps your state’s attorney general – would be happy to chat about it.

One SearchHealthIT editor shared a article that was supposed to get a couple laughs. Target, it turns out, is so finely tuned in its customer data-tracking that it figured out a high schooler was pregnant before her father did. Which isn’t funny at all, when one starts to think about  how every electronic transaction enables corporate stalking behavior, whether you want it or not.

But before the discussion got too heavy, another editor chimed in on IM: “Hahahah, data capture in photos snapped via Instagram, data capture in things you say to your phone via Siri….what doesn’t capture data very well? You know this is the set up to a punch line, right?”

“No,” I replied. “What?”


Then we began plotting how we could get Mark Zuckerberg involved with HL7. Maybe Priscilla will twist his arm.

6  Comments on this Post

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  • Don Fluckinger
    Get Zuckerberg on HL7, stat!
    0 pointsBadges:
  • SearchHealthIT
    Oh what a wicked web we weave: Social media, #HIPAA and #healthIT Some deep thoughts by @DonFluckinger
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  • Jenny Laurello
    HIT social media & #HIPAA: Will Facebook IPO push fwd #HITsm? Maybe, if HIPAA compliance is worked out: #hcsm
    0 pointsBadges:
  • Jenny Laurello
    RT @HITExchange: HIT social media & #HIPAA: Will Facebook IPO push fwd #HITsm? Maybe, if HIPAA is worked out: #hcsm
    0 pointsBadges:
  • John Smith
    Social media and HIPAA: are they irreconcilable? |
    0 pointsBadges:
  • Jenny Laurello
    @nickdawson Awesome! I will submit via a comment on your site too, but here's one for consideration:
    0 pointsBadges:

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