Millions of Americans use social media networks to communicate both personally and professionally. With healthcare seemingly moving in a more digital direction as mobile health applications and devices continue to be on the rise, it only makes sense that a physician’s social media presence be important. Just like with anything, there are benefits as well as dangers to using social media as a healthcare professional.
When used properly, social media can grow your professional network and education, promote health care organizations, open up a new platform for patient care and education, and expedite progress toward public health issues by spreading information quickly through vast networks.
When used carelessly, however, social media has the potential to share inaccurate and unreliable information, damage your professional image, breach patient privacy, violate the patient-physician boundary, and even negatively affect a physician’s credentials and licensure.
The American Medical Association (AMA) offers their own policy to help guide physicians’ social media use, as do many other healthcare institutions. As a locum tenens provider, you can maintain a positive online presence while protecting the integrity of the patient-physician relationship by familiarizing yourself with these guidelines and keeping these few things in mind the next time you login to social media.
1. Stay professional. Always avoid using unbecoming language when posting online. You may even consider creating separate accounts for personal and professional content. If you wouldn’t discuss something in public, you probably shouldn’t discuss it on social media either. Your negative actions online can negatively affect not only your reputation among patients, but colleagues as well.
2. Maintain boundaries. When interacting online, ensure patient privacy is maintained. Revealing personal patient information is something that should never occur on social media.
3. Determine what you’re willing to share. Sharing personal interests and hobbies online can make a provider seem more approachable and relatable. It is up to you to decide how comfortable you are sharing certain details about your life. Use privacy settings when necessary to protect any information you wish to keep private.
4. Regularly monitor your online presence. Make sure that information posted by you as well as content posted about you by others provides accurate and truthful information.