Under HIPAA, chiropractic clinics cannot disclose any treatment information of their chiropractic patients. That confidential information is known as “PHI”, Protected Health Information.
As a general rule, this information cannot be supplied to anyone. By posting a picture of your chiropractic patient on social media, or making comments about their treatment, or identifying the patient, you would be violating HIPAA.
However, HIPAA does allow you to disclose protected health information under certain circumstances. To disclose any information you need to have a valid authorization. Compliant authorizations need to be very specific in regards to what is being disclosed and cannot be combined with other authorizations.
This is where it can get tricky. When a chiropractic patient comes into your clinic, you have them sign the typical HIPAA disclosure form that permits your chiropractic clinic to do certain things such as, discuss their care with their insurer, or call their home regarding chiropractic appointments.
However, it is important that this form does not include permitted disclosures for social networking sites and specific testimonials. If later on in their chiropractic treatment, you take some pictures and discuss with your patient your desire to post those pictures on Facebook, you will need to re-do the original HIPAA privacy disclosure they signed when they first arrived at your chiropractic clinic.
You will not be adding onto the form, but re-doing it by taking the same unexecuted form and adding the necessary testimonial disclosure language into it, thus indicating that the patient understands that their pictures, comments (specifically stated), etc. will be posted to chiropractic clinic’s Facebook page.
The patient will now have two disclosure forms in their file (the second now valid). This second disclosure form needs to be very specific in order to ensure that the disclosure agreement is compliant, and in-line with chiropractic patient privacy laws.
Arguably, you could have a separate general disclosure that all chiropractic patients sign which would include a permitted disclosure of information to Facebook (or other social media) and you would probably be fine.
The only issue is that general disclosures lack the ability to be highly specific. Specificity is important so, to be safe, it is recommended to secure that additional disclosure anytime you want to post a picture on Facebook or other social networking site.
To view this blog as a video click this link – Chiropractic and Social Networking – Can I post pictures of patients to the clinic’s social networking pages? video.
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