I recently spoke with Theresa Defino, editor of AIS Health's Report on Patient Privacy about the limits of social media "research" by or on behalf of health care providers. The impetus for this piece was a post written by Art Caplan about a patient being taken off the liver transplant list when social media posts including photos of the patient drinking alcohol came to the attention of the transplant team. (The patient was later put back on the list.)
Is this sort of "Big Brother" approach OK, or was it taken too far? (Follow the link to a discussion of the British case I mention in the article.)
Medical ethicist Art Caplan, my brother at the (HIPAA) bar Adam Greene and I were quoted in the AIS Health article. Greene noted that HIPAA does not cover the posting of information by or about a patient on a social network and its review by a provider. Caplan and I agreed that what's public is public, and what's private is private.