HIPAA Often Misinterpreted

HIPAA mythsIntended to keep personal health information private, the law does not prohibit health care providers from sharing information with family, friends or caregivers unless the patient specifically objects. Even if he or she is not present or is incapacitated, providers may use “professional judgment” to disclose pertinent information to a relative or friend if it’s “in the best interests of the individual.”

Hipaa applies only to health care providers, health insurers, clearinghouses that manage and store health data, and their business associates. Yet when I last wrote about this topic, a California reader commented that she’d heard a minister explain that the names of ailing parishioners could no longer appear in the church bulletin because of Hipaa.

Wrong. Neither a church nor a distraught spouse is a “covered entity” under the law.

Last month, Representative Doris Matsui, Democrat of California and co-chairwoman of the Democratic Caucus Seniors Task Force, who has heard similar complaints from constituents, introduced legislation to clarify who can divulge what and under what circumstances. The proposed bill would require the Department of Health and Human Services, which last year issued new Hipaa “guidance,” to make that statement part of its regulations and to create model training programs for providers and administrators, patients and families.

“A lot of times it’s just misunderstanding what is and isn’t allowed under Hipaa,” Representative Matsui said in an interview.

So, what is and isn’t?

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FTC Social Media Endorsements Guidelines

FTC endorsements guidelinesEndorsements and reviews are big in social media, they can be effective decision making tools for consumers if they are truthful.  the FTC published endorsement guidelines to help brands and businesses stay out of trouble

Suppose you meet someone who tells you about a great new product. She tells you it performs wonderfully and offers fantastic new features that nobody else has. Would that recommendation factor into your decision to buy the product? Probably.

Now suppose the person works for the company that sells the product – or has been paid by the company to tout the product. Would you want to know that when you’re evaluating the endorser’s glowing recommendation? You bet. That common-sense premise is at the heart of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Endorsement Guides.

The Guides, at their core, reflect the basic truth-in-advertising principle that endorsements must be honest and not misleading. An endorsement must reflect the honest opinion of the endorser and can’t be used to make a claim that the product’s marketer couldn’t legally make. Continue reading

Facebook Cannot Challenge Search Warrants

Facebook Cannot Challenge Search WarrantsA New York state appeals court ruled on Tuesday that Facebook had no legal standing to challenge search warrants on behalf of its customers, a decision that dealt a blow to civil libertarians and social media companies seeking to expand Internet privacy.

Upholding a lower court decision, the five-judge panel in Manhattan said that under state and federal law only a defendant can challenge a search warrant, and it must be done during a hearing before trial. At that point, defendants can move to have evidence thrown out as the fruit of an illegal search.

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Hashtags: Useful or Nuisance?

Are hashtags obsoleteWe have all seen them, use them or been annoyed by them when abused, something I call hashtag vomit.  Users who don’t understand hashtags tagging their post with so many irrelevant and annoying hashtags you just want to move on without reading the post.

It started on Twitter, Facebook unsuccessfully tried to incorporate them in posts, LinkedIn gave up on them, Instagram and Pinterest users swear by them but few actually understand their use and purpose.

By definition, A hashtag is a type of label used on social network and micro blogging platforms to make it easier for users to find messages with a specific theme or content. In short, hashtags are like keywords allowing readers to find content related to a subject and should be treated as such

Social media “gurus” have been promoting hashtags as essential to social media posts and content success, advising marketers to use hashtags as a critical  element of any high-performing social media update without educating their clients and the public about the way to effectively use them

The result has been hashtag vomit, what mainstream search engines would classify as spam.  We have seen updates and content with plethora of hashtags, some relevant most irrelevant for the sake of trying to maximize potential exposure.

The question has long been,  do hashtags actually work?

The answer is yes and no, depending on your purpose

Twitter recently released a study focused on direct response ads, which are intended to drive a specific result, like an app install or a website visit, suggesting that when these ads included a hashtag or mentioned another account, they didn’t perform well

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Politicians Idiot Guide To Twitter

idiot guide to Twitter8 years into the making, British members of parliaments were just issued an “idiot guide to Twitter” or, how to tweet without how to avoid being boring, pompous or sued.

The “idiot guide to Twitter” guide contains pearls of wisdom… or just some common sense advice to a real time communication tool like Twitter that can be extended to any social media platform.

  • Always tell the truth
  • Do not tweet while drunk
  • Only tweet when  ‘when you have something interesting or worthwhile to say’
  • Adopt a ’60-second rule’ before posting anything online, composing a message but then waiting ‘one minute before pressing the tweet button’.
  • Tweet about ‘almost anything’, including a mix constituency work, parliamentary activity and their personal life.
  • Tweet about things normal people are interested in like music, sport, films and TV. ‘But make it genuine, don’t fake an interest in your local football team or Coronation Street if that’s not your thing.’
  • It isn’t good practice to constantly retweet tweets that praise you, or even to sarcastically retweet tweets that criticise you. It is too aggrandising and pompous.’
  • Instead, favourite every tweet where someone says something nice or positive about you
  • Tweet yourself and be yourself, your team can help you, but can’t do it for you
  • Talk less than you listen
  • Tools make it easier and more effective
  • Tweets should never be deleted
  • Hashtags improve engagement, but should be used sparingly
  • Lists save you time
  • Your views aren’t your own
  • Photos and video make it more interesting

The “idiot guide to Twitter” was produced for Parliament by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations and officials stated that it had not cost any money to the tax payer

What do you think…  chime in in the comment section

 

Are Attorneys Allowed to Advise Clients to Clean Up Social Media Profiles

Are Attorneys Allowed to Advise Clients to Clean Up Social Media ProfilesAre Attorneys Allowed to Advise Clients to Clean Up Social Media Profiles?  Social media has become a major source of discovery in litigation cases, we freely expose our life through visual platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter without thinking about potential consequences until… we are part of a lawsuit.

The question then becomes, can we or should we clean up out profiles?  Personally, and this is not legal advice, I advise in my workshops to avoid posting anything they would not want their mother, a potential employer or university to see.

Self censorship is probably the first thing to think about when posting on social media.

Now, that’s a preventive approach, most, unfortunately do not think about it and when part of a lawsuit go into curative mode trying to clean up their postings of potentially damaging postings.

I cannot tell you if it is legal or not, I am not an attorney, but I will assume that removing postings material to a law suit is probably not legal.

Keep in mind that even though you are removing them, they don’t disappear, they are still on servers somewhere, owned by the social media platform or on other users’ walls if they have commented or liked the posting, especially if you tried to clean your postings prior to the legal proceedings and can be subpoenaed

More importantly, are Attorneys Allowed to Advise Clients to Clean Up Social Media Profiles.  Their position was murky too, they are probably seeing a lot of postings on clients profiles that led them to roll their eyes or pull their hair. Continue reading

Social Media Guidance For Physicians

Social Media Guidance For PhysiciansLack of social media guidance for physicians

Professionals in healthcare have been slow to embrace social media and one of the reasons is the lack of social media guidance for physicians.  Physicians face a number of issues related to compliance (HIPAA and in some cases FDA), maintaining trust in the patient/physician relationship and the integrity of the profession

Professional associations steps in

In some cases, professional associations, concerned with the potential negative impact of social media  on the profession at large, have tried to fill the gap and issued guidance.

One of these associations, the American College of Physicians offers physicians a set of social media guidance to explain the pros and cons of social media as well as issue recommendations and safeguards for the proper use of social media

The goal of the recommendations being to preserve the trust in the patient/physician relationship and the integrity of the profession.

Recommendations and guidelines Continue reading