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Three tips for physicians using social media

Social media has permeated our professional and social lives. Some medical professionals are using this platform to their advantage. When used wisely, social media can help to build your professional reputation and expand your network. However, a misstep could lead to potential medical license issues or liability concerns.

There are some simple proactive steps that can help mitigate these risks. Three examples include:  

  • Keep it separated. A publication by the Harvard Business Review notes that an overly transparent, post whatever comes to mind strategy is risky for professionals. Instead, the publication encourages a more careful approach, considering the content and the audience before posting material onto the platform. If interested in a professional platform, it may be best to set up separate professional and social accounts to meet this goal.
  • Avoid medical questions. It is generally unwise to use a professional social media platform as an opportunity to provide medical advice. It is very difficult to keep the information shared on these pages private. As such, discourage patients from asking for specific medical advice on these pages. Instead, encourage a patient that reaches out with a concern to call the office. Gently remind the patient that the network is not secure and his or her privacy could be compromised.
  • Consider inspiration. Instead of offering medical advice, consider use of the platform to share posts that inspire a healthy lifestyle. This could include information about nutrition, exercise or how to beat an addiction. If you specialize in dermatology, a post on the importance of sunscreen would be beneficial while obstetricians could benefit from providing general information on prenatal nutrition.

It is also important to carefully review your state’s license requirements. As noted above, a failure to follow these requirements can cause more harm than good. Run afoul of these agreements, and your professional license could be at risk.