Healthcare Providers and Social Networking: New Threat to Patient Privacy

Minimizing Liability for Unwitting Physician and Staff Breaches

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Thursday, October 22, 2009

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926
Course Materials

This seminar will discuss the legal risks for healthcare providers using online social and business networking tools such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others. The panel will outline the risks for healthcare providers and discuss best practices to reduce breaches and minimize liability.


Web-based social networking has increased significantly nationwide, including in the healthcare arena. Medscape provides an online social network for doctors. Facebook groups connect patients with similar illnesses. Hospital systems use YouTube to interact with patients and potential patients.

These online tools provide tremendous opportunities for information sharing within and outside the healthcare community. However, they also create new risks for breaching patient privacy and violating HIPAA requirements.

Counsel for healthcare providers that use or are considering online social networks—or whose staff already use them—must evaluate the benefits against the potential liabilities. Counsel will need to guide providers in developing effective corporate and staff policies regarding such sites.

Listen as our authoritative panel of healthcare attorneys examines the potential legal pitfalls for healthcare providers arising from the use of online social networking. The panel will offer strategies for healthcare providers to minimize liability exposure.



  1. Current uses and trends
  2. Risks of using social media
    1. HIPAA compliance
    2. Patient privacy and dignity
    3. Security concerns
    4. Control over content
    5. Blogs of doctors affiliated with healthcare system
  3. Best practices for protect privacy and minimize exposure
    1. Develop written policies
    2. Monitoring and policy enforcement
    3. Training
    4. Selectivity in accepting “friends” or “followers”
    5. Defining the role of physician in social networking strategy
    6. Management of use of social media tools by closed medical staffs and community-based physicians affiliated with hospital system
    7. Use of disclaimers
    8. Patient consent


The panel will review these and other key questions:

  • Are disclaimers effective when inviting the healthcare community and patients to be a part of any online social networking?
  • What are the best practices for healthcare providers to develop and implement policies regarding the use of social networking sites?
  • What steps can healthcare providers take to protect patient privacy and ensure HIPAA compliance?


Sakowitz Klein, Jo-Ellyn
Jo-Ellyn Sakowitz Klein

Senior Counsel
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld

Ms. Klein is a leading practitioner on privacy and data protection matters. She has focused on privacy and data...  |  Read More

Chris Apgar
Chris Apgar

Certified Information Systems Security Professional
Apgar & Associates

He is an expert on healthcare privacy, security, regulatory affairs and secure and efficient electronic health...  |  Read More

Tim P. Tobin
Tim P. Tobin

Hogan Lovells

He concentrates on consumer protection matters with a particular focus on privacy and data security law. He counsels...  |  Read More

Access Anytime, Anywhere

Strafford will process CLE credit for one person on each recording. All formats include course handouts.

To find out which recorded format will provide the best CLE option, select your state:

CLE On-Demand Audio