According to a recent PEW report, 70% of Americans use social media, up from only 5% in 2005.1 A separate report indicated that an increasing number of American employees across the board in a range of industries are using social media while in the workplace, with the top 2 reasons being taking a mental break and connecting with friends and family while at work.2 In fact, several studies have suggested that restrictions against use of social media at work may adversely influence the hiring process by deterring would-be employees from accepting employment.3

Issues that affect employees in all industries are compounded by a unique set of additional concerns that affect employees of medical practices. To shed light on the issues related to social media in medical practices, MPR spoke to Michael J Sacopulos, JD, CEO of Medical Risk Institute (MRI), a firm that provides “proactive counsel” to the healthcare community to identify where liability risks originate and to reduce or remove those risks. He is also General Counsel to Medical Justice Services. Mr Sacopulos is the coauthor of Tweets, Likes, and Liabilities: Online and Electronic Risks to the Healthcare Professional (Greenbranch Publishing: 2018).

How did you come to write your book?

I began to consider some of the complexities of practicing medicine in the digital age and the number of risks that accompany social media and the Internet. I am a lawyer whose career began doing medical malpractice defense work. This was clearly not my niche and I didn’t enjoy it. I decided to keep physicians out of trouble rather than defending them once they got into trouble. The basis of my career is to look at where trouble potentially originates and help physicians come up with plans to avoid it. My coauthor, Susan Gay, had written an earlier book about online reviews and ratings of medical professionals. Our book was a natural outgrowth of her previous work and my current interests.

Who is your primary target audience?

I represent individual physicians or physician practices, and my book was designed to help these physicians or their office managers address digital challenges. Although many of the same issues apply to larger health systems, those typically have in-house counsel and compliance officers, while smaller practices have the same obligations but do not have the resources or infrastructure of larger health systems.