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What is really private?

For some, it depends on the situation. During Social-Powered Ethics: Healthcare Faces a New Curve, a group discussion at South by Southwest (SXSW), there was a great conversation surrounding the subject.

Is the patient in a crisis? Has the patient or a loved one recently been diagnosed with a rare or unfamiliar illness?

During such times, people can sometimes give up their normal comfort level of privacy for answers. At that moment, the privacy of their condition has gone out the window. The search for answers trumps everything else.

Then how do health care professionals protect patients’ health information while living in a world where you can share anything and everything with the slightest click of a button? Is there such thing as privacy then?

Yes. However, its definition changes from person to person and generation to generation. Health care professionals are guided by HIPAA guidelines and refrain from releasing patient information without consent.

But what happens when the patient takes matters into their own hands and posts their health information to the web? the hospital’s Facebook page? or website? We live in a world with smartphones that allow us to “check-in” letting the world know where we are, who we are with and what we are doing.

What obligations do health care professionals have once someone reaches out to connect to the world with something that fits in the palm of our hands?

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