Is Being Facebook Friends With a Patient HIPAA Compliant?

11/26/19 5:30 PM
Angel Carothers
Dental Industry Regulations, Dental Practice Management

In this blog, we explore the question “Is It HIPAA Compliant To Be Facebook Friends With A Patient?” 

Do YOU think it’s HIPAA compliant to accept a Facebook friend request from a patient?

The answer is…it depends!

Accepting or requesting a Facebook request from a patient does not violate HIPAA requirements as long as you don’t share any of the patient’s personal information in any of your communications.  Where you can get into trouble is when you break patient privacy laws by sharing personal private information.  You can learn more about HIPAA Privacy rules here.

The challenge with being Facebook friends with patients and communicating to them through that platform is that it can become a slippery slope and a quick slippery slope at that. As conversations, posts and direct messages are shared, you put yourself at greater risk for getting comfortable in the communication and accidentally violating HIPAA privacy laws.

If you do decide to accept a patient’s Facebook request, be mindful and cautious around any and call communication.

The other question to be asked here is: what personal and professional boundaries do you want to set for your practice?  

Identifying this and communicating these boundaries with your team members is an important practice to ensure that all team members are aligned and aware of these boundaries and protocols for the practice and adhere to them!

If you are a team member and aren’t sure what the Facebook protocols are in your practice, ask your manager before accepting any friend requests from patients.

When in doubt, find out.  

Keep yourself, your patients and your practice safe!

To learn more about the HIPAA Privacy Rule, click here.

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