More than half of all Americans use social media.
Chances are this means that your patients (and potential patients) are among them. And, if you are not right there with them, you are missing a great marketing opportunity.
By some estimates, 70% of physicians already use social media in a professional capacity. Whether you are one of them or soon will be, you need to know the rules, so you can make the most of this media without getting into trouble.
For healthcare providers, that trouble can be serious. Violating standards of conduct or patient privacy laws can result in hefty fines, criminal charges, and loss of licensure.
Social media is relatively new and constantly evolving so, to date there is little legal precedent to inform best-use. As a result, the healthcare practitioner must rely on offline practices and standards as well as common sense when communicating online and using social media.
This means observing a few basic laws that are not social media specific but generally govern professional conduct in health care. These include the following:
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
- The Americans with Disabilities Act
- The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
Beyond this, many professional organizations and ethics committees have established guidelines specifically for social media use. I have compiled a list below of the ones I have found to be the most helpful in the following order.
These guidelines offer a good starting point to help you get the most out of social media without significant risk. If you are affiliated with a larger medical center or university, make sure to check their social media guidelines too.