How hospital communicators manage the Pokémon Go invasion

PR pros are talking HIPAA and patient safety while asking the public to refrain from the virtual hunt while on their grounds. Many providers are using the app to encourage physical activity.

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The summer Pokémon Go phenomenon is creating a newfound communication predicament for PR pros at hospitals.

Many are facing criticism for asking the public, patients and even employees not to participate in the hunt for virtual creatures in hospital settings. It seems the augmented reality cartoon game—released by Nintendo on July 7—is wreaking havoc on day-to-day operations at medical treatment facilities nationwide.

Are communicators and providers overreacting to people using the app on hospital grounds? Larry Daly, a spokesperson for Covenant HealthCare in Saginaw, Michigan, addressed the issue in a statement:

While Covenant HealthCare believes it is great physical exercise for children to hunt for Pokemon, the hospital is not the place to do this. To ensure extraordinary care for our patients, Covenant prohibits entry into the hospital to hunt for Pokemon. Our security department and the local police have been alerted to this issue.

The Miami Herald reported that the University of Kansas Hospital issued a similar plea to the public, invoking HIPAA and other safety concerns:

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