Four medical schools including the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University, are offering training to aspiring doctors for the appropriate use of social media as part of the medical profession, thanks to a two-year grant from the Institute on Medicine as a Profession (IMAP) and the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation.
The grant, bestowed as part of the foundations’ “Education and Training to Professionalism Initiative,” will help educate medical students about the uses of social media in the professional setting, as well as the boundaries they should observe, both out of respect for patient privacy and in order to protect themselves. This includes maintaining compliance with HIPAA regulations and more subtle issues like what to do if a patient asks to be friends on Facebook.
A recent survey published in JAMA found that 60% of medical schools reported that students had posted “unprofessional” content on the Internet. A central part of the curriculum will involve first- and second-year medical students looking at their own social media footprints for instances of inappropriate content. Third- and fourth-year students will interview community members to study how the patient population uses social media, and how social media might help doctors communicate with patients about healthcare.
While social media can be professionally perilous for doctors, some doctors-only networks are aiming to make it easier for doctors to communicate with each other confidentially and in HIPAA-compliant fashion. Last week one such network, Doximity, announced that it has raised $17 million in a second round of funding.
Doximity, which pre-populates its national directory with practice information from the National Provider Identifier, Medicare, and other HHS databases, requires all physicians who want to access their profiles to complete a three-stage identity verification. Once on board, they can search Doximity members by clinical interests, hospital affiliations, specialties, languages spoken, insurance accepted, and PubMed citations. They can also send and receive HIPAA-secure messages, exchange private phone lists, and share numbers for their back lines and pagers with physician colleagues.