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Medical practitioners around the world are becoming more likely to share medical information on the internet via social media. In many countries of the world, particularly the US, running a medical practice is essentially running a business. So how do you use social media appropriately as a medical practitioner?
Guidelines for Medical Practitioners
The General Medical Council offer guidelines on social media. This is important, because the professional standards that doctors must adhere to do not change simply because they are communicating through social media. As a medical practitioner, be aware that professionalism will be expected on personal accounts as well as business ones. Social media all too easily blurs the boundaries of public and private.
Medical practitioners use of social media can be beneficial if used properly. It can benefit patient care by engaging people in health and policy discussions, facilitating patients access to healthcare provision and establishing professional networks.
What to avoid on Social Media with your Medical Practice
- Online diagnosis.
- Breaching confidentiality.
- Being defensive when dealing with complaints.
- Challenging medical myths inappropriately (always be polite).
- Blurring boundaries (you must alway retain a professional relationship with your client).
Build your Medical Practice Brand with Social Media
Remember to first of all analyse which social media platforms your clients or patients use. Going on a social network where your clients are not would be counter-productive. Facebook is usually a great place to start.
Key tips on building your Medical Practice brand on social media…
- Get a good logo to brand your practice and upload it as the profile picture.
- Create separate accounts for your medical practice (do not use personal accounts).
- Create a Facebook fan page for your medical practice.
- Look out for imitators and make your account official.
- Use social media for reputation management – respond to complaints accordingly and take them out of the public arena.
- Share medical information to help others living with a condition.
- Facilitate patient access to care by sharing opening hours/directions.
- Consider a YouTube account for your Medical Practice.
Experts in Social Media for your Medical Practice
There are several professionals who are qualified doctors and physicians who teach others how to use social media for there medical practice. One of the leading practitioners in the field of medical social media is Russell Faust. Faust is CEO and managing partner of Windriven Group, which helps hospitals and practices with “content marketing” programs.
Mike Sevilla spoke at a TED conference on Medical Professionals and social media. He believes that physicians have an obligation to share their medical knowledge on social media. He refers to the announcement of an apparent ‘link’ between vaccinations and autism, that has since been scientifically discredited, but was prolifically shared on social media. In the US, many doctors started their training as a result of this, in attempt to crush social media ‘medical myths’. Mike also explains the importance of being a family doctor and sharing information on living with conditions such as diabetes and asthma.
Mike said ‘if you do not stand up for what you believe in, who will?’
Do you use Social Media for your Medical Practice?
If you use social media for your medical practice, please share how this works for you, and any advice you can offer.
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