Despite privacy challenges, some health insurers are beginning to embrace social networking tools as a way to interact with consumers, the Wall Street Journal's "Health Blog" reports.
HIPAA privacy rules prohibit health plans, hospitals and other groups from publicly disclosing information about their interactions with patients. Still, some health plans have begun to use social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, to monitor negative comments about the company and respond to consumers.
For example, WellPoint has launched a Twitter feed to respond to consumers.
Aetna Vice President of Service Operations Shelly Ferensic said Aetna is "out there monitoring blogs."
Meanwhile, Humana said it "closely monitors what people are saying about the company in various social media venues and responds to Humana members if we believe a comment they are making or a concern they are airing requires a direct reply" (Wilde Matthews, "Health Blog," Wall Street Journal, 8/19).