You Need a Social Media Policy.
If your practice has a Facebook page, Twitter handle, or any social networking account for that matter, your practice needs a social media policy to keep you protected from potential legal wrangles down the road.
Social media policies are guidelines to help protect the practice from potential legal wrangling down the line. Because of the durability of Internet data and social media content, posting the wrong things can put you in hot water down the line. You never know if a careless tweet could translate into a malpractice suit, because while a careless comment can be forgotten amongst people, the Internet never forgets.
This is why we're going to give you the basics of building a social media policy that works for you and your practice.
When constructing a social media policy, these basic principles must be implemented:
- Write in the first person
- Maintain patient privacy at all costs
- Behave professionally online as you would offline
- Never share confidential information about patients online
- Allow only approved staff members on official social channels
- Keep your personal and professional social media accounts separate
- Understand the privacy settings of each platform and keep them updated
Keep these in mind at all times when you or your staff is representing your practice online. You can build on these principles to flesh out your social media policy, but these are the general rules of protecting your practice from lawsuits over Facebook updates.
It's also important to note that any time you write online about your experience as a physician (e.g. blogging; contributing to news or educational articles; posting comments on a website with your professional opinion) you should mention any conflicts of interest and you should be clear about your credentials. Remember, any content authored by you online is subject to the same rules and standards as the content you author for print journals.
You should also make sure to train your staff to use the same social media policy whenever they use your practice's social media accounts. Your staff is an extension of you and your practice. Anything they say online should follow the same social media policy that you abide by.
Finally, do your research. These are only the basics of best social media practices for physicians. Spend some time online to find other tips and tricks to help you build the right social media policy for you.
Links on creating a social media policy for your practice: