Participation in Social Media by Health Care Professionals - Paper Example

7 pages
1822 words
George Washington University
Type of paper: 
Case study
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Healthcare professionals use the social media for a wide range of purposes. Healthcare professionals share information over the social media, debate healthcare problems, policies and practices issues, promote health behaviors over social media such as Facebook and Twitter, blogs, and your tube, educate the patient, educate other caregivers and colleagues. Facebook's a lot of groups of healthcare professionals. However, the healthcare professionals use of social media is highly controlled under the data protection act. The healthcare professionals are also required to follow the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) as well as the Privacy Rule (Privacy Rule). These federal privacy laws have set a strict baseline for protection of the health information. Therefore, the nurses and other healthcare professionals can only share patient information without exposing the patient's identity.

Ethical theory and Principles

Ethical principles or ethical approaches in healthcare especially in relations to identifiable health information are very clear. Healthcare professionals should always observe the following health theories that apply to healthcare:



Virtue Ethics


The theory holds the view that nurses and healthcare providers should involve in the right moral responses that produce the best outcome or have positive consequences. As such, if sharing the patient's infuriation would not produce the best outcome, then the healthcare professional should refrain from sharing patient information.


Deontology is an ethical theory founded on the duties and rights of an individual. The nurses should carry out their duty in a way that promotes the customers autonomy and demonstrates her respect for the patient. The nurses are expected to adhere to their obligation and duties. Their duties including protecting patient autonomy and privacy, providing care, and protecting patient data

Virtue Ethics

The virtue ethics, on the other hand, are based on the code of conducts of nurses and other healthcare professionals. Virtue ethics emphases the moral character of the nurses. The primary professional responsibility of the nurses is to the people under their care and the community as a whole. The nurses must promote an environment in which the right of the patient, the values, as well as the patient's customers and spiritual belief are respected. This means that the nurses should respect even the personal space of the patient whether they are discussing their patient issues with the patient online or offline. The nurses should first seek informed consent from the patient before sharing his name or personal discussing issues online. The nurses can seek help from other healthcare workers with the aim of helping the patient recover, but this does not give the nurses the right to share patient information online without the consent of the patient or the patient's legal personal representative.

Over the social media such as Facebook, there are forms where the patient can seek help or advice, but this does not the nurses the right to share patient information without seeking first the paint's consent. Even though he nurses and the individual are expected to receive accurate, sufficient and timely information in the right manner, the nurses should only solicit relevant information from the patient and ensure that that patient information is not leaked online to other social media users.

The nurses have to hold in confidence all the personal information of a patient and use his or her better judgment when sharing information. The nurses should also share health information with the other nurse's responsibility to initiate and support actions aimed at meeting health needs of the patients. The nurses should also advocate for patient rights, and social justice as well as access to health. Therefore, if sharing the patient inflation would improve patient access to healthcare, then the nurses have to seek permission from the patient. The nurses must always demonstrate professional values when handling patient's health information. He must demonstrate respectfulness, responsiveness, Integrity, and compassion.

Information sharing over the social media: A case study of Facebook and twitter Internet

With the continuous changes and developments in technology, the healthcare has seen changes in the way systems share record and retrieve patient information. Health givers now continually employ the services of web technologies and phones together with other computer-based technologies in transferring and recording of delicate patient information. The fact that the adoption of mobile technologies has significantly increased the mobile one of the key culprits of patient data exposure. 100% of the nurses have smartphones that they use to share information, participate in online groups and ask questions related to patients conditions.

Mobile phones are not secure and there is also very limited privacy as the mobiles phones can be solved and the content including patient data shared over the internet as a way of neither sabotage nor revenge. There are hackers who can hack nurses social media accounts that they access over the smart phones and share the data maliciously. In the process, patient data would be everyone over the Social media shared easily by the social media users and the fact that social media is an open media, everyone who is connected or friend to the nurses would have access to that information

The fact that smart phone are currently the most used device to access the social media and has driven the use of social media by a larger Certance. The phone is the most convenient devices for nurses to use to share patient information and promote health, but it is also the most insecure. The nurses use of the social media may be safe but the phones increases the risk. However, there is limited privacy in the use of these techniques as it can be accessed by people on the internet. There is also the issue of low communication barriers and security and hence bringing up the ethical concerns in using smart phones and social media in the healthcare perspective.

With the coming of the digital age, most people find it easier to gain and share information through online sites and healthcare is no exception. Social platforms like Facebook and twitter have been widely used to recruit participants and proven an effective strategy in a youth-related research study. Informed consent becomes an issue as it is essential that the participants give their permission. For those over the age of eighteen can provide written consent or do so online but it is still difficult to know whether one is telling the truth as currently, the is no way to determine ones age over the internet (Tucker, Branson, Dilleen, Hollis, Loughlin, Nixon & Williams 2016). It is a sensitive area as information or data remitted to the researchers can result in other complications.

Social media has gained importance in the healthcare as it can allow for patient centers service. It has been found that patients, friends and family members request advice and guidance through social media sites. In the same note, it has been found that chronic diseases patients are using the social media more often to connect with others as they share information and experiences over the internet. There are also other data sharing platforms and social networking communities that deal with the sharing of conditions, treatment outcomes and conditions of patients. The platforms are also used to track peoples personal health, and this may cause issues if personal information is accessed by the wrong persons as such it is the responsibility of the caregivers to treat all the data from patients as private and employ means and methods of protecting said information by encrypting the data (Charani, Castro-Sanchez, Moore & Holmes 2014)..

Another area of concern is the patient-doctor communication through social media. With the development of technologies, it has become easier for patients to get in touch with the doctors through social media. At the moment health information and examination results are transmitted online. Although this may improve the communication between the doctor and patients caution is necessary as ethical issues of security and data privacy are at risk (McKee 2013). The doctor-patient relationship may be compromised as patients may get unrestricted access to doctors private and personal information through the internet.

For doctors using social media networks, it is relevant that they use privacy settings and become familiar with the settings in ensuring sensitive content is protected. On the same note doctors, on the other hand, may come into contact with information that is not on the health records of the patient. It is crucial that as caregivers they treat the information with ultimate confidence and observe sensitivity when displaying such information. Digital tracking of patients should be discouraged, and all caregivers should maintain expected levels of standards and desist from posting patient information that is identifiable (Murdoch & Detsky 2013).

Risks of social media use by nurses for work related issues

McKee (2013) and Tucker et al (2016) argued that social media can be very advantageous to healthcare facilities, but the risks related to it are obvious. Firstly, if most of the nurses use their social media accounts for clinical workflow and communication, then they could be violating hospital security policies, federal laws and Nurses association codes of ethics. Secondly, if these nurses are transferring protected health information through their social media accounts in a manner that can be linked to a particular patient, then they are violating state nurse practice acts (Charani et al 2014). Using smart phones in sending protect health information could lead to loss of nursing license, jail sentences, monetary fines and even loss of employment (Charani et al 2014)..

Theres also the issue of Healthcare providers discussing health issues of patients in unauthorized areas even unconsciously over the social media such as Facebook, twitter, WhatsApp. It may turn detrimental to both the patient and also the nurse. The nurse may be fired or even have their medical license terminated. Another issue that breaches privacy and confidentiality of patients information is the use of emails by healthcare providers to convey patient details (Tucker et al, 2016). In the use of emails considerations should be made. The content of data, the purpose, and audience of the message for example, if it is a complex or sensitive issue, then perhaps face to face would be most suitable. The use of emails comes with its disadvantages, and these are; free email services such as social media user data and share it with third parties who may disclose this data. The use of emails may also use of fragmentation of patients information during the process of dispersing the info (Murdoch et al 2013).

The Facebook, twitter, WhatsApp and emails in the transfer of patients are really detrimental to the patients and the healthcare providers. However, these problems can be solved adequately; for example, healthcare providers should desist from establishing a patient-physician relationship by email (McKee 2013). Secondly, healthcare provides can maintain the same ethical responsibilities when using emails in communication. Lastly, the patients should be informed about the disadvantages of email before using it as a medium of communication. The solutions provided for the use of smart phones in the healthcare setting are; nurses must be instructed to abide by the set rules of the hospital care (Charani...

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