Most people are familiar with Twitter and Facebook, but have you heard of Yammer?
Mayo Clinic attorney: Social-media policy is critical
Hospital owners and managers and the lawyers that represent them should familiarize themselves with Yammer as soon as they can—and not necessarily in the interest of jumping on the Next Big Thing in social media.
That was one take-home lesson during several sessions on social-media websites Tuesday afternoon at the American Health Lawyers Association's annual meeting in Boston.
Daniel Goldman, an attorney with Mayo Clinic who helps run the health system's Center for Social Media, explained in one session that Yammer claims to be a closed social network set up exclusively for individual companies and their employees.
But the site is so new that it's tough to tell whether the networks truly are closed communities, even though hospital employees might be discussing protected patient information under the belief that they're doing so in secret.
Also, any employee can start your company's Yammer network. "Eighty percent of Fortune 500 companies have a Yammer site. So you want to know if there's one for your hospital," Goldman said.
Several speakers Tuesday tried to make the point that the risks from not maintaining a presence on social networks like Facebook and Yammer have become greater than the risks associated with joining them.
"You may not choose to be on social media, but that's not going to stop some knucklehead from posting something about you," Goldman said.
But the new media come with many new issues to address. "Something to think about is, if someone posted a video on YouTube saying, 'They killed my baby,' how fast could you respond to it?" Goldman said. "Would you have to go through seven layers of approval?"
Finally, he said, regardless of what a hospital executive thinks of social media, for the hospital's young hires, "lifecasting"—broadcasting life's daily minutiae on public social networks—is a common phenomenon that may not end with the start of professional life.
Given the liability that hospitals face under HIPAA, "having a social media policy is absolutely critical," Goldman said.
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