This article discusses Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Smartphones and Social media in Healthcare.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Smartphones and Social media in Healthcare
Case scenario: We Can, but Dare We?
Social media is one of the most popular and influential innovations in 21st century. The interactive and the instantaneous nature of social media makes it one of the most popular information and communication applications in the world, irrespective of social, economic, age and political status. In nursing profession, the use of social media and smartphone is widespread. This trend has raised considerable ethical and professional issues in the profession and the medical field is concerned.(Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Smartphones and Social media in Healthcare)
One of the professional and ethical issues surrounding the use of social media in nursing includes patients’ privacy and confidentiality (Bernhardt, Alber & Gold, 2014). Moreover, use of social media in healthcare is subject to legal and regulatory implications for the professional and the healthcare providers. The objective of this paper is to investigate how social media and smartphones could be applied in healthcare to promote safe practice environment that is in compliance with the existing legal framework. To address the objective, I will first examine the case scenario provided and discuss it in context to the HIPAA Act and other legal and regulatory requirements. Secondly, the paper will critically evaluate the selected ending scenario, its implications and make recommendations on how to mitigate the various issues arising from it. The third part of the paper will explore the benefits and disadvantages of using smartphones and social media in healthcare setting and then complete the essay with a summary of lessons learnt from the scenario and the topic at large.(Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Smartphones and Social media in Healthcare)
HIPAA, Legal and Regulatory Requirements
The scenario highlighted provides an example of how misuse of social media could potentially undermine the safety and treatment of the patients and jeopardize careers in nursing profession. In the scenario, the nurse violates the stipulated professional standards and ethics and contravenes the HIPAA regulations. As the nurse in charge of the night shift, the care provider is supposed to handle the incoming patients with outmost professionalism by observing the nursing ethics and the required code of conduct in regard to the use of social media (Peck, 2014). However, the nurse in the night shift abuses the trust of the patient by taking a picture of the critically injured client; sharing the images in the social media; recording and storing private and confidential information of the patient in her smartphone. Moreover, the nurse is careless with the information she has stored in her phone, as indicated by her leaving the phone at the place of work after the end of the shift. The legal implication of the nurse’s conduct is violation of patient’s right to privacy.(Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Smartphones and Social media in Healthcare)
Patients’ right to privacy is enforced in various provisions, including Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Secondly, the nurse is in violation of nurse professional code of ethics, which requires treatment of patient with respect and dignity and ensuring that nurses apply their skills and knowledge to safeguard the health and safety of the patients. The role of HIPAA act is to ensure that the patients’ private and confidential information is protected from illegal third party access (Lambert, Barry & Stokes, 2012). HIPAA enforces the privacy rule by ensuring that the healthcare organizations are in position to provide data security on patients’ information that is in their possession and enforce proper mechanisms to ensure that employees do not have illegal access to the information or use it inappropriately. In this regard, HIPAA regulations are envisaged at protecting patient privacy by establishing individual recognizable information and determining who could have access to the information and under what circumstances the data may be applied or accessed (Lambert, Barry, & Stokes, 2012).(Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Smartphones and Social media in Healthcare)
This paper explores the second ending, which involves receiving inducement of $20,000 from a magazine in order to release the photos of the patient. Additionally, the magazine offers to hide identity of the senders to protect them from possible legal action. Information from this ending indicates that the media already has information that the popular patient was treated at the facility and has identity of the nurse who attended him. I would recommend that the nurse should not have taken the picture and send it on social media. This is because, it is against nurse code of ethics, and secondly once the information is posted in the social media, it ceases being confidential and the sender no longer has control over it (Peck, 2014). (Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Smartphones and Social media in Healthcare)
I would recommend outright rejection of the financial inducement from the media house. Although the offer is tempting considering that I need a new car and settling few bills, it is against nurse professional code of ethics and personal values. To mitigate the problems caused by the scenario, it is of critical importance to inform the media houses that it is against professional code of ethics to release private and confidential information of a patient to the press, unless under written authority from that particular client. Moreover, I would recommend disciplinary action against nurses and any healthcare professional that deliberately gains illegal access to confidential information of the patient and then misuses the information for illegal purposes. One of the disciplinary actions that would recommend for nurses suspected of violating patient privacy includes reporting them to Board of Nursing (BON) (Lambert, Barry & Stokes, 2012).(Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Smartphones and Social media in Healthcare)
Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Smartphones and Social media in Healthcare
Although social media and smartphones could compromise on patient’s privacy and confidentiality, it has various advantages. First it provides an effective platform for nurses and healthcare professionals to network, and exchange ideas, which is important to promote their professional development. Social media and smartphones also provide an ideal platform for nurses’ professional organizations to contact and mobilize individual members on matters such as upcoming events and new development in nursing practice (Bernhardt, Alber & Gold, 2014)(Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Smartphones and Social media in Healthcare). This helps the nurses to remain updated and in touch with current trends affecting healthcare system. One disadvantage of social media and smartphones is that they are some of the major sources of distractions in the workplaces, which prevent nurses from providing quality care to patients. Healthcare professionals spend considerable time on social media, which undermines their ability to form therapeutic relationships with the clients. The second disadvantage is that the information posted on social media could be distorted, because there are no mechanisms of establishing its veracity. This could result injuries or harms to third parties (Bernhardt, Alber & Gold, 2014).(Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Smartphones and Social media in Healthcare)
Various professional and ethical principles govern the use of smartphone and social media in the nursing setting. First, nurses are not allowed to convey or place individually identifiable patient information on social media, or other online platforms. This includes images, and data that could lead to positive identification of the patient. Secondly, nurses are required to be ethical in observing and maintaining professional patient-nurse boundaries. In this regard, nurses are required to question whether distributing the patient’s information on social media would foster or ruin their established relationship outside the internet realm (Lambert, Barry, & Stokes, 2012).(Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Smartphones and Social media in Healthcare)
This module on the use of information technology, particularly social media has taught me various things. First nursing professionals should not shy away from using social media so long as they are doing it within the established legal, professional framework. Social media is an effective networking tool that can help nurses’ professional advancement. In addition it provides an interactive platform for nurses to exchange ideas, and experiences, which is important to promote interpersonal relationships outside the workplaces.(Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Smartphones and Social media in Healthcare)
Bernhardt M, Alber J, & Gold, R. (2014). A social media primer for professionals: digital do’s and don’ts. Health Promotion Practice, 15(2):168–172.(Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Smartphones and Social media in Healthcare)
Lambert, K., Barry, P., & Stokes, G.(2012). Risk management and legal issues with the use of social media in the healthcare setting. Journal of Health Risk Management,1(4):41–47.
Peck, J.L.(2014). Social media in nursing education: responsible integration for meaningful use. Journal of Nursing Education, 19:1–6.