On the Wall Street Journal Health Blog, Anna Wilde Mathews wrote an interesting post about health insurers’ slow entry into social media:

Lots of companies are starting to track social-networking tools like Twitter and Facebook to keep an eye on negative comments, put out their own happier spin and interact with consumers.

But in the health-care business, there are some special challenges because of privacy concerns — notably the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, aka HIPAA. Insurers, hospitals and other entities can’t say much publicly about what they’ve done for patients.

Still, health insurers are beginning to dip their toes in the water.

The post notes several health insurers’ social networking activities on Twitter and other social media sites:

  • WellPoint is tweeting at http://twitter.com/AnthemHealth.
  • Aetna VP of Service Operations Shelly Ferensic says the company is “out there monitoring blogs” and tries to connect with members if it feels it can help. There is a Twitterer under the name Aetna, with 122 followers and one tweet (from September 2008), but he or she doesn’t appear to represent the insurer. There’s also an ihateaetna with 37 followers and zero tweets.
  • Humana says it “closely monitors what Generic Cialis Online 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.” The HumanaOne and HumanaMedicare Twitter feeds have no tweets so far, though someone called DavidatHumana, who bills himself as an “online enthusiast working at Humana,” does weigh in from time to time.
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