Risks and benefits of sharing patient information on social media: a digital dilemma

Robert M.A. Van Der Boon, A. John Camm, C. Aguiar, E. Biasin, G. Breithardt, H. Bueno, I. Drossart, N. Hoppe, E. Kamenjasevic, R. Ladeiras-Lopes, Paul Mcgreavy, P. Lanzer, R. Vidal-Perez, Nico Bruining*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Social media (SoMe) has witnessed remarkable growth and emerged as a dominant method of communication worldwide. Platforms such as Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube have become important tools of the digital native generation. In the field of medicine, particularly, cardiology, attitudes towards SoMe have shifted, and professionals increasingly utilize it to share scientific findings, network with experts, and enhance teaching and learning. Notably, SoMe is being leveraged for teaching purposes, including the sharing of challenging and intriguing cases. However, sharing patient data, including photos or images, online carries significant implications and risks, potentially compromising individual privacy both online and offline. Privacy and data protection are fundamental rights within European Union treaties, and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) serves as the cornerstone of data protection legislation. The GDPR outlines crucial requirements, such as obtaining 'consent' and implementing 'anonymization', that must be met before sharing sensitive and patient-identifiable information. Additionally, it is vital to consider the patient's perspective and prioritize ethical and social considerations when addressing challenges associated with sharing patient information on SoMe platforms. Given the absence of a peer-review process and clear guidelines, we present an initial approach, a code of conduct, and recommendations for the ethical use of SoMe. In conclusion, this comprehensive review underscores the importance of a balanced approach that ensures patient privacy and upholds ethical standards while harnessing the immense potential of SoMe to advance cardiology practice and facilitate knowledge dissemination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-207
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Heart Journal - Digital Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Society of Cardiology.


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