Is Your Social Media Policy Ready? Or Not?

Executive Briefing | by | May 5, 2011

Monica E. Oss
Monica E. Oss

May 5, 2011

Last week, I read a story about a Rhode Island doctor who was fired from her job in the ER and reprimanded by the state medical board. Her offense? Discussing her patients on Facebook. And while the doctor did not disclose patient names or other identifying details, the medical board still found that by describing her patient’s injuries on Facebook, the doctor breached her patient’s confidentiality (see Doctor Busted for Patient Info Spill on Facebook).

Health and human service organizations need to embrace social media for many reasons (Calculate Your Organization’s Social Media IQ all members), – consumer education and consumer marketing are just a few. And, as consumers have more “choice” (and pay more out of pocket) for their services, responding to consumer’s preference for information (see No One’s Going to Look for You in the Yellow Pages all members) is a critical organizational competency.

But, the Rhode Island incident illustrates the need for organizational policies and procedures about the use of social media. (And, one note – even if you, as a manager, choose not to have organization-sponsored use of social media, you can be sure that your employees do in their personal lives. This means that even if you want to stay far away from creating a Facebook page or YouTube channel as an official platform for your organization, you still need to develop a social media policy for your organization.)

What do you need in your organizational social media policy? Your policy needs to lay out clearly what you expect from your employees regarding their use of social media in relation to your organization. Just as with the Rhode Island physician, many professionals “overshare” through social media without realizing what they are doing. Your policies need to address whether postings disclose directly or indirectly any identifying factors about any consumers – or any confidential or proprietary business information.

The use of social media is here to stay. Your organization needs written policies to make sure that you are prepared to handle all of the complications that it may bring – and to reap all of the rewards.


Monica E. Oss
Chief Executive Officer, OPEN MINDS

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To read more about using social media to your organization’s advantage, check out: Building Your Business With Friends on Facebook all members 

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