Smartphone Technology and Social Media in Healthcare

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Smartphone Technology and Social Media in Healthcare

Course Outcomes 

x CO #4: Investigate safeguards and decision‐making support tools embedded in patient care technologies and information systems to support a safe practice environment for both patients and healthcare workers. (PO 4) Smartphone Technology and Social Media in Healthcare

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x CO #6: Discuss the principles of data integrity, professional ethics, and legal requirements related to data security, regulatory requirements, confidentiality, and client’s right to privacy. (PO 6)


Smartphone Technology and Social Media in Healthcare


Technological advancement has triggered the use of social media and other devices for communication. As such, the use of these devices has expanded exponentially as nurses increasingly use the number of social media platforms, blogs, online chat rooms and social networking portals. Nevertheless, the very nature of these devices can pose a risk as it offers immediate posting opportunities that predispose nurses to battle in courts as a result of posting reflective thoughts. This paper transcends a review of how Smartphones and social media can be applied in healthcare through a critical analysis of a given scenario pertaining the HIPAA and other Federal regulatory requirements. Also, the paper will outline the benefits and demerits associated with the use of Smartphones and social media in healthcare.


HIPAA, Legal, & Regulatory Requirements

For one to comprehend the limits of apposite utilization of social media and Smartphones, it is crucial to understand the basic obligations of a nurse practitioner in regards to confidentiality and privacy. The two terms, confidentiality and privacy,  as described by Harman, Flite, and Bond (2012), are relative but distinct in nature. Confidentiality entails safeguarding of information obtained during practice. As such, it is stipulated that any information regarding a patient obtained by a healthcare professional in the course of treatment must be safeguarded at all costs by the respective healthcare professional. Additionally, this information obtained during practice can merely be shared with the informed consent of the patient, when it is a legal requirement and/or where failure to disclose the information could lead to significant harm to the patient. Regardless of all these limited immunities, a healthcare professional is obliged to safeguard any confidential information. Furthermore, the dynamics of confidentiality allows for sharing of this information with other members of the medical/nursing team purported to offer utmost care for the patient. As such, the patient will hesitate to disseminate pertinent information if they fear. Hence, the trustworthiness of the healthcare profession can be destroyed when there is a breach of trust. Smartphone Technology and Social Media in Healthcare

Alternatively, privacy recounts the patient’s right and expectation to be treated with respect and dignity. Latour and Albarran (2012) suggests that efficient and effective nurse-patient relationship are fundamentally constructed through trust. As such, the patient will hesitate to disseminate pertinent information if they fear. Hence, the trustworthiness of the healthcare profession can be destroyed when there is a breach of trust. The state and federal law define and emphasize privacy through the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). These regulations focus on protecting patient’s privacy and confidentiality through a definition of “individually identifiable information” and an establishment how the information is utilized, under what scenarios, and by whom(Wu, Ahn, & Hu, 2012). As such, the HIPAA regulations monitor any information that is wrongly shared by a healthcare professional on social media. Healthcare professionals can fissure patient’s confidentiality and privacy intentionally or inadvertently through posting information on social media platforms, blogs, and forums. These can include comments with enough details about a patient, mentioning patient’s information in a demeaning manner or post videos and pictures of patients.

Scenario Ending & Recommendations

In regards to the scenario given, I would choose ending #4 since this case reveals a total breach of confidentiality and privacy of the client in the case. Furthermore, HIPAA is mandated to take any legal action since the pertinent information of a celebrity has been disclosed to a local gossip paper, Gossip Gazette. In this case, There are potential consequences for the improper use of patient information. This is what the Board of Nursing, depending on jurisprudence law, as an inappropriate use of patient information on social media. As such, the healthcare organization will be investigated on the grounds of unethical and unprofessional conduct, moral turpitude, poor management of patient records and breach of confidentiality. These allegations come with a disciplinary action through criminal and civil penalties.

To avoid such penalties, I would recommend that healthcare nurse practitioners should be aware and cautious to avoid inadvertent disclosure of patient information. First, Saiki and Lobo (2011) suggest that nurses must realize that they have an obligation, legally and ethically, to maintain patient confidentiality consistently. For this case, the nurse would have sought an informed consent to take photos, if they were necessary for treatment of the patient. Also, it is mandated that nurses must follow policies stipulated in their contract and must not take videos and photos regarding patients on their Smartphones, per se, they should follow the organizational policies for taking photos. Additionally, profession boundaries must be maintained in regards to the scenario in that nurse are required to create, communicate, and administer boundaries of professionalism and be cautious of the online social contact with former or current patients. As such, they must seek guidance regarding postings. Last, as per the scenario, nurses should be able to identify any breach of privacy and confidentiality. Smartphone Technology and Social Media in Healthcare

Advantages of Using Smartphone Technology and Social Media

As much as social media and cellphone technology has influenced our purchasing decisions, it has also affected healthcare significantly. Smailhodzic, Boonstra, & Langley, (2015) suggest that the use of social media has considerably enabled physicians to have a connection with patients and establish a therapeutic relationship which in turn builds credibility and trust with the social networking platforms. Evidently, in the United States of America, there are 250 million users of a social networking website, Facebook(Statistic Brain, 2015). Therefore, this large community creates an environment that to the physician in which they can interact and share medical knowledge for the betterment of the intervention processes.

Also, the presence of smartphone technology and social media has significantly aided access to information as surveys suggest that eighty percent of all physicians utilize internet browsers to access apposite information regarding updated diagnosis and treatment procedures of diseases(Conde, 2012). Also, smartphone technology and social media have enabled dynamic interactions with other professional, outside of healthcare, in sharing information to improve healthcare quality. Additionally, use of these technological devices are cost effective(Gupta, Tyagi, & Sharma, 2013).

Disadvantages of Using Cellphone Technology and Social Media

Even though these technologies are beneficial, they come with detrimental effects in regards to healthcare. First, these technologies affect patient’s privacy and confidentiality in that the direct interactions with patients on social media can inadvertently reveal patient information and breach HIPAA regulations. Also, it is proven fact social media interactions are time-consuming and uncontrollable. As such, the use of smartphones is a source of distraction and entails minimal cognitive processes due to the availability of data. Doctors and nurse rely on some applications to make decisions on a given treatment, as such, it reduces focus(Gill, Kamath, & Gill, 2012).



Social interactions and relationships, as well as access to information to patients, are the primary merits that social media and smartphones have brought within the healthcare arena. But, nurses need to be aware of the significances of patient’s information disclosure through social media as exhibited in the scenario coupled with my ending statement #4. Privacy and confidentiality are the salient characteristics of on-point professionalism. Through conscientiousness and caution, the nurse can derive practical advantages of these technologies to avoid violation of confidentiality and privacy. I have learned that there it is our duty to practice ethically and morally when using social media and smartphones during practice.Smartphone Technology and Social Media in Healthcare


Conde, C. (2012). Social media connects physicians and patients. Texas Medicine108(1), 14–21.

Gill, P. S., Kamath, A., & Gill, T. S. (2012). Distraction: An assessment of smartphone usage in health care work settings. Risk Management and Healthcare Policy5, 105–114.

Gupta,  a., Tyagi, M., & Sharma, D. (2013). Use of Social Media Marketing in Healthcare. Journal of Health Management15(2), 293–302.

Harman, L. B., Flite, C. A., & Bond, K. (2012). Electronic health records: privacy, confidentiality, and security. The Virtual Mentor : VM14(9), 712–9.

Latour, J. M., & Albarran, J. W. (2012). Privacy, dignity and confidentiality: A time to reflect on practice. Nursing in Critical Care17(3), 109–111.

Saiki, L. S., & Lobo, M. L. (2011). Disclosure: A concept analysis. Journal of Advanced Nursing67(12), 2713–2722.

Smailhodzic, E., Boonstra, A., & Langley, D. (2015). Social Media Enabled Interactions in Healthcare : Towards a Typology. ECIS, (2015), 1–16.

Statistic Brain. (2015). Facebook Statistics. Statistic Brain.

Wu, R., Ahn, G.-J., & Hu, H. (2012). Towards HIPAA-compliant healthcare systems. Proceedings of the 2nd ACM SIGHIT Symposium on International Health Informatics – IHI ’12, 593. Smartphone Technology and Social Media in Healthcare


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