Highly regulated companies tiptoe into social media

Healthcare companies, financial services firms and others are taking advantage of social media, even while awash in rules. Here's how they do it.

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Interestingly, some patients aren't concerned with their own privacy. "We have patients who want their lab test results via Twitter, which isn't appropriate," Coughlin says, "but it tells us that people are interested in fast information." In response, the hospital created a secure portal called MyChildren, where patients can get their lab results and other information.

As for employee social networking rules, no one outside of Coughlin's department is allowed to blog as a representative of Boston Children's Hospital. And no employees can dispense medical advice via social media, although general information and links to helpful sites is fine.

When social media first came on the scene, some executives at companies in regulated industries resisted, in what Prescient's Ward calls a knee-jerk reaction to new technology. But with a few precautions, these companies can engage, connect and converse with customers as effectively as organizations in any other sector.

Melone is a freelance writer based in Orange County, Calif. She specializes in consumer topics ranging from health to technology and business. Contact her at Linda@LindaMelone.com.

This version of this story was originally published in Computerworld's print edition. It was adapted from an article that appeared earlier on Computerworld.com.

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This story, "Highly regulated companies tiptoe into social media" was originally published by Computerworld.

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