We Can, But Dare We?
Chamberlain College of Nursing
NR-360 Info Systems in Healthcare
Professor Kari Sherman
May 15, 2018
We Can, But Dare We?
Social media and uses of mobile technologies are increasingly used in healthcare today in direct support of patient care on everyday activities to promote patient quality care. Communication is essential in the healthcare setting. Technology is advancing daily and healthcare team embracing technology to communicate among themselves, for closer monitoring of patient improvement and as self-management tools for the patient, but limited privacy and security issues lead to problems among healthcare professionals. This is where HIPAA regulations come to play. HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Acts, US law that provides privacy standards to protect patients’ medical records and other health information provided to health plans in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. ” Nurses who strive to protect the privacy and security of patient information are protecting themselves from ethical lapses and violations of the law and the American Nurses Association’s Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements mandates that nurses protect a patient’s rights to privacy and confidentiality” (McGonigle ; Mastrian, 2015). Authorization for release of information and creating new document should be considered in transparency for sharing information. The nurses who access the information should be authorized and the patient consent should be sought. The information should not be accessed without the consent of the patients and any nurse or healthcare professionals that use the patient information for personal purpose or carelessly open patient information for others to view that are not in direct care of the patient or knowingly release patient information to the public breach HIPAA provision that results in violations of the law.
Smartphone and social media are digital media and technologies that enable users to exchange information and create media content individually with others which have become tools supporting healthcare processes. Gathering and sharing information regarding patient health and empowerment enhancing quality patient care. HIPAA regulations from using PHI (Personal Health Information) and EHR (Electronic Health Record) by the healthcare professionals should be only for the purposes of paying an insurance claim, to provide medical treatment to the patient and in connection with healthcare operations. If a nurse is knowingly or unknowingly violated HIPAA rules, the healthcare organization will investigate the incident and determine if HIPAA laws were violated or not and if so, there will be a repercussion for the individual or nurses concerned depending on the nature of the violation.
Technology is powerful tools in the healthcare setting, using sophisticated devices, efficient electronic data transfer of health information and using high-tech operating rooms to provide quality care to our patient, open new ideas for healthcare professionals and allowed open access communication to people around the globe. With this, there are advantages and disadvantages that go along with the use of smartphone and social media in the healthcare setting. The advantages of using smartphones and social media in healthcare create an opportunity for patient care improvement enhancing better healthcare system in our society.
A major advantage in healthcare regarding uses of smartphones and social media that we all know is the easy access to information. Every Hospital and other healthcare facilities can post information such as seminars, job fairs, job offers, educational classes and employee schedule online as a way of giving information to the employee and the public. This makes it easier for people to view online as the easy way to communicate smoothly and stay in touch with one another.
Another advantage of using a smartphone and social media in healthcare is that healthcare professionals, it allied and people around the globe now have the easy access and convenience of technology right in the palm of their hands. There are software applications (app) that are available for a variety of useful task to include symptoms assessment, resources location, and tracking of treatment progress. For instance, women can keep track their menstruation circle, fertility circle and even specify the date that is the best time to get pregnant and track when they are most likely to experience another menstruation circle the following month. There is an application example that comes from an article stating “Nurses may teach patients about monitoring their health, such as tracking their blood pressure by using tools on smartphones” (Wyatt ; Krauskopf, 2012). Managing chronic disease, diet, exercise, and lifestyle choice can be done using a variety of application available on a smartphone. Information can be sent and receive from one department to the other or from one individual to the other using smartphones and through social media to improve patient care. For example, job opportunities are posted on social media that will enable the facility to select the best candidate for employment. Another example is that nurse page a respiratory therapist when caring for a patient because the patient in respiratory distress or need sanctioning or trach cares as soon as possible. The respiratory therapist will instantly receive the message and respond to the call. Also, there is a website available to help medical professionals. For example, there is a drug reference and database website within the system that offers the choice of research for any information that is relevant to the healthcare professionals.
However, with advantages come disadvantages of using smartphones and social media in the healthcare setting. One major disadvantage is carelessness or lack self-control, nurses received patient information either labs or x-rays take a screenshot and mistakenly send it to a friend or someone else instead of sending it to patient-provider for clarification or notification. However, healthcare professionals know that it is ethically wrong to take pictures with the patient during or after treatment without patient consent and send it to a friend or family member or post it on social media as proof of a good job at the workplace. This is unethical because we cannot control what is posted online or what is said about you online, within a second the information can go viral. Another disadvantage of the use of smartphone and social media in healthcare is low quality or lack of reliability of online information because different people post different information online that is not true or incomplete and this traveled worldwide in a click of a button. In view of ethical principle involving appropriate use of smartphones and social media, the nurse should protect a patient right to privacy and confidentiality. With patient privacy, compliance is something that should always be in mind of all healthcare professionals in order not to violate HIPAA laws. With advancement in technology, there is an application or website for everything online. Social media versus HIPAA seems to be the number one issue that all healthcare professionals have seen at some point throughout their career. However, social media has taken advantage of technology that caused many healthcare professionals to use and forfeit their license because of negligence and carelessness. Now, there are strict policies and rules regarding social media in all medical facilities. Some medical facilities might go as far as asking for a personal password of the employee social media websites for screening before approving the potential employee. If anything inappropriate is found on the website, the facilities have the right to terminate or stop the employment processing. As a result, many medical professionals have been confronted about the use of technology involving social media and HIPAA regulations. There is a disadvantage when using online education in nursing in the article that states “It might seem that educator may not be able to promote a caring atmosphere for nursing students in an online education and, therefore, may not be able to have a positive impact on the effective domain of nursing education” (Ainsley ; Brown, 2009).
Recommendations and Conclusion
As a student, my recommendation for the conclusion option 2 would be to professionally decline the offer of $20,000 dollars if it was me in the scenario. Sincerely, I know twenty thousand dollars is a lot of money compared to the consequences of violating HIPAA regulations. Turning down the offer will be my best option. Yes, I know that the money can solve some of my immediate problems but my career; I mean my license is more important to me. Though the Gossip Gazette specifies that my identity would never be revealed, this is an understatement to make you feel secure and get you involve to get reader’s attention. There is always going to be a leak. We all know that it is ethically wrong to take a patient picture without his or her consent when been treated in exchange for money in any situation or circumstances. Termination may not be the worst that can happen when HIPAA rules are violated by employees. Healthcare professionals may be found criminally liable for HIPAA violations and case can be referred to the department of justice for prosecution which will result in loss of professional license. I am a sincere nurse signed under oath to practice as a professional nurse in the State; I would never take a patient picture for personal purpose except for the medical purpose. However, I will confront my best friend about calling the Gossip Gazette in the first place and to delete the pictures immediately and let him know that there is a law that protects patient privacy and that we both going to be liable for the consequences of his action. There are many ethical, legal, and professional principles involving the appropriate use of smartphone and social media in the healthcare setting. Medical professionals should refrain from posting anything inappropriate on their social media website involving their patient.
Ainsley, B., & Brown, A. (2009). The impact of informatics on nursing education: a review of
the literature. Journal of Continuing Education In Nursing, 40(5), 228-232 5p.
McGonigle, D., & Mastrian, K. (2015). Nursing Informatics and the Foundation of Knowledge
(3rd ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett.
Wyatt, T., & Krauskopf., P. (2012). E-health and Nursing: Using Smartphones to Enhance
Nursing Practice. Online Journal of Nursing Informatics. 16(2). 10-14 5p.