Social Media: Staff-Related Risks

January 12, 2021 | Health System Risk Management


Anyone who has spent time on social media knows it can ruin reputations. This risk is twofold when it comes to employees at healthcare organizations, who run the risk of harming their own reputations, as well as that of the organization they work for. A post made by a staffer or patient could go viral and end up in local or national news. The following represents just a sample of social-media-related stories since 2018 that have been featured inStrategic Insights for Health Systems, a weekly newsletter. The stories illustrate the range of reputational risks that can result from the actions of patients, staff members, and even the organization itself:

Social Media: Organizational Risks

​​Organizations must have flexible social media policies in place for workers that can adapt with the ever-changing online world. However, these policies must be worded carefully to avoid violating the rights of workers, those related to the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) in particular. This guidance article focuses on risks related to staff use of social media and strategies organizations can take to mitigate such risks, while still respecting workers' rights. For information about policies pertaining to the organization's use of social media, for instance for community engagement or staff recruiting, see Social Media: Organizational Risks.

As of 2019, YouTube had surpassed Facebook as the most popular form of social media, with 73% of U.S. adults using it, according to the Pew Research Center. Nearly as many U.S. adults (69%) use Facebook. Instagram (37%), Pinterest (28%), LinkedIn (27%), Snapchat (24%), Twitter (22%), and WhatsApp (20%) were the next most popular platforms. These numbers have remained largely unchanged since 2016, with the exception of Instagram, which has seen an increase in users. (Perrin and Anderson)

Facebook's days of dominance may be waning. A 2018 study showed that teenagers are more likely to use Snapchat and Instagram than Facebook (Anderson and Jiang). But social media is not just for the young. In 2019, 59% of baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) and 28% of...

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