Physicians: Exercise Caution When Using Social Media

When a physician accesses social media – whether it be LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or another social media site – it is very important to be honest, respect privacy, and uphold the reputation of the medical profession.  It is also important to seriously consider separating one’s professional use of social media from one’s personal use.

Physicians must be aware of what is being posted online and how it is presented, given the ever-increasing use of social networking and blogs.  Physician employers should also be aware of what their employees are posting online, both professionally and personally.  Many employers in the health care field have established social media policies to govern the use of social media both during and after work hours.  

Additionally, physicians need to take into account the use of online rating sites and search engines by patients.  How can these sites affect a physician and his or her practice?  Physicians should work to understand, manage and proactively review their online identity and personal brand.

A smart strategy for physicians is to consider all postings – whether professional or personal – as public.  Examine privacy settings closely.

Finally, in the event that a physician communicates directly with patients electronically, it is crucial to do so via secure messaging, have a physician-patient communications policy in place, and comply with the rules of such policy.

Source: Rajecki, Ron. “Be Careful When Using Social Media.” Medical Economics. 12 May 2011.

© 2011 Parsonage Vandenack Williams LLC

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