Home > Uncategorized > Doctors: Should they be using social media?

Doctors: Should they be using social media?

A few weeks ago, the Boston Globe published an article which discussed the pros and cons of doctors using social media for professional business. While social media can be a wonderful tool for health care organizations in general, this medium becomes increasingly difficult to navigate when health care professionals are using it to discuss patient information online. Patient privacy is a huge issue in any field relating to health care, and anyone working in an environment that could potentially put them in contact with patient information is required to be trained in the HIPPA privacy rule. Although health care practitioners are well aware of these rules and laws related to the privacy of patient information, the nature of social media itself makes it easy to “forget” those commitments to patient privacy. Social media is fast, easy to use, and has global reach — consequently, a doctor or nurse making one simple post on Twitter or Facebook about a patient can easily translate to a huge breach of privacy.

So, should health care providers be using social media in a professional setting? Can they use it in a way that is informative yet abides by privacy laws? Can/should they be trained in the responsible use of social media at work? Does social media fall within the scope of their practice?

Many of these questions have yet to be answered, but they will certainly be relevant as the worlds of social media and healthcare continue to intersect. Until then, here is a helpful list of tips and tricks for healthcare providers seeking to navigate social media.

  1. Google yourself
  2. Manage your image / create your own content
  3. Separate the personal from the professional
  4. Avoid communicating directly with patients through social media
  5. “See the good”
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