How to Launch Social in a Regulated Industry

Sophia LewisSr Comms Consultant,AETNA

Most brands have faced questions about when and how to engage on social. In the healthcare sector, many brands and organizations still are considering if they should engage. That’s the setup of this case study.





The Issue
The impression many of us have is that when it comes to social media marketing and communications, everyone is doing it, brands and nonprofit organizations included. Reality is different. In highly regulated industries, such as healthcare, many companies have yet to cross the social media threshold.

While every industry is held accountable to their typical regulatory requirements, healthcare companies, and specifically, pharma and biopharma companies, have even higher standards for using social media based on Food & Drug Administration (FDA) requirements. One of the most often-mentioned regulations deals with privacy constraints included in Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the 1996 act designed to protect patients’ medical data. To comply with HIPAA, clinical vignettes posted on social concerning patients must remove all personal identifying information, including insurance details.

This sounds straightforward, yet surveys of such posts show compliance with these regulations is incomplete. There also have been several well-known inadvertent breaches on social of HIPAA rules.


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