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    Expert hints: 7 ways to avoid HIPAA violations via social media

    These days, social media is king. Everything has become shareable and information can be passed along with just a click of a post or tweet button. But what happens if someone posts their negative feelings about your clinic, your staff, or even you online for the world to see? What if a patient desperately needs answers to their eye issue and reaches out to you via Facebook or Twitter for an answer?

    These scenarios can quickly turn into violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) if handled incorrectly.

    More in this issue: why specialty physicians need to look at EHR platforms differently

    In this Q&A with Misti Buard, a certified marketing coach, we delve into everything physicians need to know to prevent HIPAA violations through social media.

    How should ophthalmologists handle a bad online review on sites such as Yelp? Is there anything they definitely should not do?

    Bad online reviews should never be ignored (especially those on Yelp or Google!). Some say that you should respond privately to a bad review, but that isn’t wise. Think about it, why would one respond privately to something that was written for everyone to see—and that ‘something’ is a bad reflection of their practice?

    The best way to handle this situation is by joining the conversation. Address the issue (publicly) and more importantly, ask the patient how they’d like the issue resolved. Acknowledging the negative review publicly allows onlookers (potential customers) to see that the ophthalmologists values patient satisfaction, and that he/she is willing to go above and beyond to make sure that their patients are happy.

    Monitoring Yelp and other sites weekly should be a best practice that each ophthalmologist follows. Positive reviews will encourage more patients to walk through your door, bad reviews will not.

    Rose Schneider Krivich
    Rose is the content specialist for Medical Economics.

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