Brittney Wilson, RN, BSN
Technology and social media have added many new benefits as well as many new challenges to the nursing profession. On the one hand we now can access patient data and chart on patient care more quickly and easily than ever and we have access to a nearly limitless online support system of nurses. However, on the other hand we now could accidently share protected health information (PHI) over social media in just a few clicks of a mouse. Because of this, nurses need to be very aware that with great power come great responsibility and social media and technology should be used fully, wisely, and cautiously.
But don’t start shaking in Dansko’s just yet. There’s no need to fear technology or social media. You just have to be smart about it. Every action you make should be analyzed to consider if it’s in the best interest of the patients you serve and whether it could violate any laws or your state nurse practice acts.
The following are a few tips to help you avoid making mistakes with social media and technology and in the process protect your nursing license.
Make Sure Your Mobile Device Is Encrypted
There are many laws in place to protect patients and their private health data. This means that mobile devices, like laptops, that you use for work and contain PHI must be encrypted. This way if they are lost or stolen the information cannot be accessed by the thieves and you and your organization won’t be facing costly fines and burdensome media attention.
Don’t Share HIPAA Protected Data
I know nurses get tired of hearing about HIPAA but it’s really important to always keep it at the forefront of your mind. Violating HIPAA can be as simple as revealing the date of service and location of patient care. There are 18 patient identifiers that are off limits. Something innocent seeming like a patient’s age can even be an identifier (if they are over 90). If you aren’t careful you can share information that can bring you costly penalties and may even bring you up for review by the nursing board.
Don’t Disparage Your Profession Or Your Boss Via Social Media
Nursing needs to be critiqued. There are plenty of issues that need to be highlighted so we can find solutions to the problems. But constantly being negative and disparaging your entire profession, your state nursing board, or your boss are not the best approaches to enacting positive change. On the one hand it could get your fired and if you take it to the extreme and boss-bash, nursing-board-bash, or patent-bash the board of nursing could question your mental health or even worse.
Using These New Tools
Technology and social media should be seen as a tool to better provide nursing care, not as a hindrance. There are many wonderful things that technology can do for nurses and patients but nurses have to make sure they are doing their due diligence when it comes to using these new tools.
Brittney Wilson, RN, BSN, also known as The Nerdy Nurse, is a Clinical Informatics Nurse practicing in the Atlanta, Georgia area. In her day job she gets to do what she loves every Brittney Wilsonday: Combine technology and healthcare to improve patient outcomes. She can best be described as a patient, nurse and technology advocate, and has a passion for using technology to innovate, improve and simplify lives, especially in healthcare.Brittney is the author of The Nerdy Nurse’s Guide to Technology. She is a social media influencer and blogs about nursing, technology, healthcare, parenting and various lifestyle topics at thenerdynurse.com.