One of the newest and most exciting (but most unexplored) areas of the birth profession is the use of social media (Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, etc) to market your small business and getting the news out and into the hands of expectant parents and other professionals ~ whether you are a private practice pregnancy massage therapist, lactation consultant, childbirth educator, doula, nurse consultant or whatever.
And I say unexplored in regards to HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. The Privacy Rule standards address the use and disclosure of individuals’ health information—called “protected health information” by organizations subject to the Privacy Rule — called “covered entities,” as well as standards for individuals' privacy rights to understand and control how their health information is used.
The Privacy Rule protects all "individually identifiable health information" held or transmitted by a covered entity or its business associate, in any form or media, whether electronic, paper, or oral. The Privacy Rule calls this information "protected health information (PHI)."
“Individually identifiable health information” is information, including demographic data, that relates to:
the individual’s past, present or future physical or mental health or condition, the provision of health care to the individual, or the past, present, or future payment for the provision of health care to the individual,
and that identifies the individual or for which there is a reasonable basis to believe it can be used to identify the individual.13 Individually identifiable health information includes many common identifiers (e.g., name, address, birth date, Social Security Number). The Privacy Rule excludes from protected health information employment records that a covered entity maintains in its capacity as an employer and education and certain other records subject to, or defined in, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, 20 U.S.C. §1232g.
Please be careful when FBing, Tweeting or Blogging about certain situations. If you need to check the stipulations of the HIPAA, go to http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/understanding/summary/index.html.
I will have more about this in my upcoming book on creating/marketing your birth business AND my presentation at the Lamaze Conference in Orlando!