As a member of the medical community looking to establish a search engine optimization (SEO) presence, it is possible to make social media mistakes. You may not be sure about the right way to update and run your social media accounts, or how to properly communicate with patients online.
To offer physicians some guidance in this respect, the American Medical Association (AMA) has even enacted a policy that provides medical professionals with some guidelines on appropriate social media behavior.
Below you can review some of the specific standards. These deliver the underlying message that it’s unethical to do anything online — with regards to your patients — that you wouldn’t do in an offline environment.
AMA Guidelines for Social Media Use by the Medical Profession
The AMA has proposed the following guidelines with their policy. We have also outlined what it dictate with regards to appropriate online behavior. These guidelines apply to how the administrator/s of practice’s account can engage with others on Facebook, Twitter, or your blog.
Remember patients’ privacy when engaging with people online. Social media allows you to interact with your patients in new ways. You are provided with the opportunity to field their questions, provide information about procedures, and share successful results with the world.
Make sure that this is accomplished in a way that puts patient privacy first. Never divulge names or display photos of your patients’ faces. Also, be careful in your online interactions. Even if a patient provides some personal information while posing a question, you cannot respond with anything that compromises their privacy, regardless of what they have already divulged.
Take the conversation offline. Continue your discussion in a private setting if you feel that there may be any risk or that the patient’s privacy may become compromised. Use the social media account’s private messaging function, or if the patient would like to discuss sensitive information such as their medical condition or history, set up a consultation in your office.
Keep in mind that anything you put online does not go away. Even if you think you are posting something that’s protected by privacy settings, there’s the potential for it to be viewed by a greater audience. A good rule of thumb when you’re using social networks as a medical practice is to avoid posting anything you wouldn’t want the whole world to see, regardless of your privacy settings.
Remain professional when using social networks for your practice. It is a rule that you likely keep offline; that you shouldn’t mix business with pleasure, and it applies online too. If you have a Twitter account for your practice, use that to engage with patients and discuss industry-relevant topics.
Do not use your practice’s official social media accounts for your casual interactions. Keep a separate account for social interactions so you can discuss topics that have no relevance to your brand image and reputation as a medical professional.
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