Mayo Clinic's Solution for Social Media Challenges

The Mayo Clinic recently launched Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media intended to help train medical practitioners and patients about the use of social media to improve patient care. While it’s easy to see how greater access to healthcare related information can be very valuable, problems with doctors and nurses posting PHI inappropriately has made news headlines more than a handful of times. Therefore, this new development comes at a great time, just as more and more organizations are beginning to appreciate the value of a comprehensive social media strategy. With the goal of delivering better quality care to patients, many healthcare systems are sharing EMR applications and medical data repositories and setting up interfaces between different systems. This increases exposure of medical records to a larger group of healthcare practitioners by allowing better, faster, and easier collaboration between doctors. With increased collaborative efforts, it’s become more likely that doctors will choose social media as the catalyst of collaborative efforts and patient information sharing.

Therefore, organizations that act as custodians of PHI, such as hospitals, clinics, and research labs, must take active steps in educating their workforce about the dangers of social media, and how these tools can be used effectively and without violating patient confidentiality or current healthcare compliance requirements. Through the Center for Social Media, Mayo Clinic seems to approach the problem from multiple angles. While the portal is still very young, the articles already posted address issues of creating well-designed social media policies, creating appropriate training materials, as well as provide analysis of documented cases of misuse of PHI. Overall, I view this as a very positive development and will continue to monitor this website for insightful information about the best use of social media in healthcare. After all, this technology is here to stay, and draconian policies of simply blocking access to Facebook from the workplace have proven to be ineffective. The answer to these challenges clearly point to better guidance and training for the healthcare practitioners, as well as developing tools for responsible, effective, and secure collaboration.