By Christiane Soto, Snelling Medical Professionals

Social Media can work in Healthcare ProfessionThe Hippocratic Oath is one of the oldest binding documents in history.  Written thousands of years ago, it has remained “an expression of ideal conduct for the physician”, but the world has changed much since its creation.

Hippocrates never had to deal with health care organizations demanding access to patient records or the explosion of social media as a method for medical learning.

I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know.

The advice is out there  ….pin…tweet….share!  But what about patient privacy?  It is a huge concern, and not one that is very clear-cut.  “Digital natives” – young adults who have grown up with social media – have a very different view of privacy than their parents (or even older cousins).  Managing this new communication model (with all its blurred lines) can be an enormous challenge.  What one group views as crossing the line, another group views as inclusive behavior.       

Therefore, develop a comprehensive social media policy and educate your employees on the importance of maintaining patient privacy.  This is particularly important given the speed and ease of social sharing and the unique regulatory medical environment presented (ex: HIPPA and different state privacy laws).  Make this policy as concrete as possible.  Employees may think that there is no HIPPA violation if they do not include any patients’ names while blogging about their time working in your medical practice. This may not be true, especially if enough details have been included to make a person identifiable.

I will…gladly share such knowledge that is mine with those who are to follow.

Knowledge is power…especially when it comes to a person’s health.  As we age, changes happen in our bodies….from newly emergent aches/pains to changes in hair and complexion. Most people want answers about those changes, and many turn to the Internet for answers. Now I am not proposing that anyone self-diagnose via search engines; however, more than 40% of consumers say that information found via social media affects the way they deal with their health.  Well, if people are looking, someone has to be providing accurate information.

Over 24% of doctors use social media at least once a day to post or seek medical information. Facebook, Twitter and (even) Pinterest can be effective and efficient tools for the sharing of medical knowledge. However, a problem remains. Social media is about conversations; it is not about lectures and speeches.  People expect to converse.  They want to respond to your post and ask questions, and they expect you to “talk” back.

If you are uncomfortable with this, then do not fully embrace social media. However, you will still have to participate at some level.  Play or pay.  In order to “play”, you (again) need to have a comprehensive social media policy that specifically lays out (at the very minimum):

  • your practice’s social media stance – what forums you will use and what type of conversations you will have
  • your practice’s stance about employees’ social media use during work hours
  • who is assigned to officially speak on behalf of the medical practice via social media
  • the methodology for dealing with an inappropriate post or an outright public relations disaster.

Your practice’s staff is the linchpin to successfully navigate social media.  Their savvy can be your greatest asset.  Snelling recognizes this. We work with you to fully identify your needs and then develop a comprehensive plan to find you the medical workers you need.

So log in on our website to locate your closest Snelling Medical Professionals’ office to get started today!

 NOTE:  A full-color, downloadable PDF is available.