Technological advances today make the world a smaller and more accessible place. Thanks to personal computers, cell phones and social media, most anyone is just a few key-strokes or finger taps on a touch-screen away. However, the same modern marvels of technology that are supposed to make our lives easier and simpler are also increasingly blurring the line between our professional and private lives. And not always for the better.
During June, Human Resources Services presented a Knowledge Link training module on Penn Medicine Professionalism at both the all-employee Town Hall and Services Director’s meetings. The presentation demonstrated real-life scenarios that may occur in the work place where proper professional and ethical conduct can be comprised, particularly because of the ease of access and temptation of modern technology.
The presentation – which ran through the Knowledge Link course in full – focused on three primary areas: technology, privacy and social media. Each scenario spotlighted a specific situation within each area where employees violated proper professional and ethical conduct and then demonstrated the proper way to address such challenges. For example, an abuse of technology in the work place would be downloading movies on your office PC. With the ease of convenience of computers and smart phones, it is easy to forget that any UPHS/Penn Medicine issued device is not our own, but belongs to the Health System. These items are not personal property and a therefore, are not protected by rights of privacy.
On the other hand, the privacy of our patients’ and employees’ personal information and medical records is of upmost importance and in accordance with HIPAA laws, must be strictly adhered to at all times. Employees are never to attempt to intervene on behalf of a family member or friend – no matter how well intended their actions may be – to gain access to medical information using PAH computers and program systems. All medical information, lab results and the like, must be delivered to patients from their care providers only.
The last topic of the presentation, social media, served to remind staff and employees that there are clear lines that must be drawn to keep personal social media participation separate from our professional lives. At no time should an employee use his or her position to access patient information and contact a patient through social media applications, or use social media sites while at work.
Do the Right Thing
While the New Professionalism Knowledge Link course is not mandatory for employees, all are encouraged to enroll and take the course. To enroll, please visit the Knowledge Link button on the PAH Intranet page and enter “Penn Medicine professionalism” in the advanced search feature.