1. SOCIAL MEDIA CREATES A PUBLIC AND PERMANENT RECORD
An electronic trail is left that can be disseminated to third parties in an instant. Think ahead before you press “send” or “post”.
2. REFRAIN FROM POSTING IDENTIFIABLE PATIENT INFORMATION ONLINE
Names, DOBs, contact information, photographs, x-rays, and details of patient care that a health care provider obtains from a patient should not be disclosed in social medial channels. See AMA Opinion 9.124 (a).*
3. NO ASSUMPTIONS OF PRIVACY
Providers should use privacy settings so as to safeguard their own personal information and content. But privacy settings are not absolute. Providers should monitor content posted about them by others to ensure propriety and accuracy. see AMA opinion 9.124 (b).*
4. MAINTAIN PROPER BOUNDARIES
Just as in any other context (personal, telephonic, etc.), when interacting with patients via social media, a provider must maintain appropriate boundaries for the relationship in accordance with professional ethical guidelines. See AMA Opinion 9.124 (c).*
5. KEEP BUSINESS SEPARATE FROM PERSONAL
See AMA Opinion 9.124 (d).* Monitor to make sure that interactions with patients remain consistent with business purposes. If specific clinical advice is sought through a personal Facebook inquiry, do not communicate specific advice back to the patient. Instead, direct them to your professional page.
6. AVOID QUESTIONABLE CONTENT
Unprofessional content (whether business or personal) can be viewed by state medical boards, professional societies, and health care entities as undermining public trust in the medical profession, which may create a basis for adverse action. See AMA Opinion 9.124 (f).*
7. UNPROFESSIONAL CONTENT OF COLLEAGUES
Unprofessional content posted by colleagues, if not removed, may possibly require reporting to these same authorities. See AMA Opinion 9.124 (e).*
8. KEEP ONLINE RESPONSES GENERAL
A provider may not reveal a patient’s PHI acquired in a clinical setting. Keep postings and online responses general and non-specific to patient. Instead of responding specifically, request that the patient come in for a clinical appointment or inquire to your office by telephone.
9. EMPLOYED PHYSICIANS SHOULD ASK
If you are an employed physician, follow any social policies and get approval from employer for specific posts. Avoid disclosing proprietary and trade secret information. For personal accounts of physician, consider using a disclaimer stating that posts are personal views and not those of the employer.
10. PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE
Put time and effort towards your online presence. Keep resources current and accurate. Blogs require attention monthly, if not weekly. Determine what Yelp, Angie’s List, Rate MDs.com, and HealthGrades are saying about your practice, make it easy for your satisfied patients to write reviews, and don’t overreact to a few isolated negative reviews.