Friday, May 18, 2012
What Are Your Online Professional Standards?
A couple weeks ago, I posed the question:
Can Your Customers Find You Online? all members. As the numbers of consumers who are using social media in some capacity for their health care needs continues to rise (27% of consumers already post comments and reviews of medications, treatments, physicians, or health insurers—41% Of Patients Use Social Media To Choose Health Care Provider Organizations all members), it is becoming more and more important to consider how you, your staff, and your organization as a whole are going to interact with those individuals over the internet.
To help service provider organizations navigate this tenuous path, the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) released a policy for physicians who use social media and social networking sites (see
New FSMB Policy Addresses Appropriate Use of Social Media by Physicians and
Model Policy Guidelines for the Appropriate Use of Social Media and Social Networking in Medical Practice premium members), which covers appropriate physician-patient relationship, professional and ethical standards, interacting with patients, discussion of medicine online, privacy/confidentiality, disclosure, posting content, professionalism, and medical board sanctions and disciplinary findings.
While I recommend reading the narratives presented in the guidelines in full, I think the three recommendations from the FSMB policy cannot be repeated enough:
Online interactions with patients should be solely about medical treatment – and should never take place on social media websites.
Privacy and confidentiality are no less important online. We are already seeing the commoditization of personal health information and the concerns it has raised over patient privacy. A much more immediate threat to that privacy are professionals who discuss patients, treatments or their professional experiences on-line.
Providers have no control over how information will be used, or who will use it once it's posted on-line. Information lives forever on the internet, and even if it doesn't it's best to assume that it does and will disseminated to a much larger audience than originally intended.
So should you and your staff interact with consumers in a social media setting? If you answer yes, make sure your executive team write very specific guidelines for you staff to follow. Not having a policy will eventually lead organizations into trouble.
Vice President, Marketing, OPEN MINDS
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