Social Media for Physicians: Guidelines for Success
Social media is everywhere, but should it be used by Healthcare professionals to connect with their patients? This topic has received a lot of attention recently, and the debate about whether or not it is professional has been opened. If patient care can be improved by using social media and it can be used professionally, shouldn’t it be used? We’ll cover how to approach social media professionally in this article, providing tips and best practices for industry professionals in the Healthcare industry.
According to the online physician community QuantiaMD, physicians are extremely engaged with social media. A reported 90 percent of physicians peruse at least one social media website for personal use and about 65 percent use it professionally. Even more say they have an interest is using social media professionally.
Ethical guidelines and tips
Healthcare professionals can harm their careers by not using social media responsibly. Striving to control and uphold a professional online reputation and being proactive is highly recommended.
When using social media to connect with patients, the following guidelines should be followed:
- Physicians and other Healthcare professionals should keep their personal and professional identities separate. This means that it is not advised to “friend” patients on social media or contact them in any way, or to call them out by name while posting on social media.
- Physicians and other Healthcare professionals should not text patients for any medical care except in rare circumstances where the patient not only has given consent, but it is imperative.
- Email and other similar digital interactions shouldn’t be used unless express consent is given.
- If approached by a patient to give medical advice online, physicians should encourage the patient to visit the office or the nearest hospital or urgent care. Discretion should be used on a case-by-case basis.
- Having a professional online profile on social media can be used to control a good online presence and create a good first impression before an initial patient encounter.
Benefits vs. repercussions
Email can provide patients with quick answers to non-urgent issues but using email to communicate with patients brings up several confidentiality concerns. Other concerns include unprofessional interactions that aren’t face-to-face, the misinterpretation of medical advice, and potential ambiguity. Before communicating electronically, a physician should consider if the repercussions are worth the immediacy.
By following the guidelines above, Healthcare professionals can take a proactive approach when controlling their online presence while still acting professionally.