Skip to main content

All Access Subscription

Get unlimited access to our full publication and article library.

Get Access Now

Interested in Group Sales? Learn more

Hospital Report logo small


The premier resource for hospital professionals from Relias Media, the trusted source for healthcare information and continuing education.

The changing face of social media: Ashton Kutcher isn’t the only one tweeting! (Video)

In our web-based/mobile technologies/interactive dialogue world, we have been inundated with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Ning, Google Plus, Tagged, Orkut, hi5, Bebo, My Life, and Friendster, just to name a few…It is clear that social media isn’t going away. It isn’t just for celebrities and teen-agers anymore! Social media platforms have entirely changed how content, including news and other information is created and disbursed.

And now, even hospitals are in on the action. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of hospitals participating in the social media phenomenon. Social media platforms provide many benefits for hospitals, such as improving communication with patients and the community, as a marketing tool, recruiting, and reportedly, to facilitate effective crisis management processes.

That’s the good. Now for the bad. As an avid social media user, it is difficult for me to find anything “bad” about social media in general, but reports from the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management (ASHRM) Annual Conference and Exhibition, held Oct. 16–19 in Phoenix, have emerged, and many of the participants have weighed in on the controversy of social media in a hospital setting. Comments included the privacy issues often surrounding social media and risks of other HIPAA violations.

We’ve covered the good and the bad. Now here’s the outrageous: There has been much scrutiny about social media and boundary issues such as physicians “friending” patients. There are no laws against it, but most professionals would agree that doing so is not altogether ethical.

Gwen Stokes, assistant vice president of risk management for Allied World Assurance Co., with headquarters in Switzerland and offices all over the United States, says in media reports, “Some of the legal concerns involve physicians with Facebook accounts posting information about a patient, or using Twitter to pass along information during surgery.” To see proof of this, check out the CNN video below.

Embedded video from CNN Video

On another note… finding a social media channel that fits each individual need and skill level can appear daunting, considering all to choose from. Help has arrived for doctors hoping to find their niche in an interactive world. Healthcare professionals can download a new directory, Being Influential Online: Social Media Tactics for Physicians. The purpose of the social media guide is to provide physician’s time-efficient strategies for establishing the all-important online presence, to attract new patients, expand referral networks, or simply manage an online reputation.

However you choose to use social media and whatever platform, especially for work – see it as a great advantage to inform, enlighten, and even entertain.