Thursday Thoughts | Distributing personal medical information via social networks

From a friend’s Facebook status:

Times have definitely changed. I am filling out my son’s paperwork for his well check with his new pediatrician and there is a spot to put your Facebook or Twitter account down to receive non urgent info about the patient!

We are clearly moving in the direction of social media and digital information, so I would love to hear your thoughts on the following (answers should assume consent from both parent and physician to use this type of interaction for non-urgent medical information):

  • Is it legal?
  • What about ethical?
  • What considerations would be required regarding this interaction?
  • What about privacy and security issues*?
  • Would all these considerations be a problem if there’s been consent from all parties?

And most importantly…

  • As a patient, would you consent to transferring non-urgent medical information this way?
  • What about as a physician or other healthcare provider?
*To play devil’s advocate, what makes these interactions any less safe than “snail-mailing” non-urgent info? Theoretically, can’t almost anyone open your mailbox and mail? Doesn’t snail-mail go through way more hands to get to someone than email? What makes them any less secure than cell phone voicemails? We learned from this incident that cell phone hacking is incredibly easy if you know the right people and technology. What do you think the differences are?

 Image: Free Digital Images | Kookkai_nak