Now that your practice has an online presence on the major social media networks, it’s time to figure out the ground rules of this new frontier. When communicating with patients using social media, physicians and other medical professions must be careful to maintain professional boundaries. Some professional organizations were a little slow to catch up, but they are now writing social media guidelines into their Code of Ethics. If you aren’t sure where your credentialing organization, stands be sure to check their website, they likely have the current code online. Once you have your practice established in cyberspace, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Have separate accounts for your practice and your personal relationships. This is the first step to maintaining clear boundaries and ensuring that all communications with current and prospective patients remain professional.
  • Develop a policy regarding ‘friending, following’ etc and responding to requests and other material posted on social networks. If you will not have the ability to constantly monitor and respond to posts make that clear, and encourage clients to call instead if they need immediate assistance.
  • Do not post any confidential information to social networks, and provide the appropriate information to ensure that clients understand the limits of privacy on social networks. This way clients are fully informed should they choose to post information about themselves.
  • Provide full contact and emergency information on your home page. Many individuals, especially young people, search Facebook before Google. Ensure that your office’s full address, phone and fax numbers, and office hours are clearly displayed on the home/landing page on the social networks. It’s also a good idea to include emergency information, such as an after-hours answering service (if applicable), a covering physician or practice if on vacation, and local emergency services.

Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter provide an unprecedented opportunity to communicate with clients, conduct outreach, educate, and to market practices. With a little attention to boundaries today’s physicians can maintain the same level of professionalism online as in their offices.

We will discuss social media and more November 8-10 in Orlando at THE Medical Practice Marketing Event. Mention Priority Code C425BLOG when registering.

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