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How healthcare professionals use social networks, from Facebook to Groupon

October 13, 2010
  • Patient Patricia Alvarado of Sparrow's Point, Md., used a Groupon to get a dental cleaning, exam and X-rays.
Patient Patricia Alvarado of Sparrow's Point, Md., used a Groupon… (Kenneth K. Lam / Baltimore…)

Social networking is a squishy place for healthcare professionals but when it comes to bringing in business, the appeal is obvious.

In June, Dr. Katherine Chretien wrote an opinion piece in USA Today titled "Please don't 'friend' me" in which she talked about the ethical danger of having a patient want to communicate with her via Facebook. The assistant professor of medicine at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., worried that any communication with a patient on a public platform like Facebook could pose a violation of HIPPA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. 

Dr. Matthew Mintz, an associate professor of medicine (though he doesn't disclose where on his  profile on Dr. Mintz' Blog), disagrees, saying barriers and problems surrounding patient-doctor communication can be overcome and lead to valuable interaction.

But there's a part of social networking that healthcare professionals use to bring in business involving sites like group discounter Groupon and others. The Baltimore Sun explores the trend in "Doctors experimenting with social media."

--Mary Forgione / For the Los Angeles Times

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