As a member of the medical community looking to establish an SEO presence, it is possible to make mistakes. The American Medical Association (AMA) has even enacted a policy that provides medical professionals with some guidelines on appropriate social media behavior. Below you can review some of the specific standards. These deliver the underlying message that it’s unethical to do anything online – with regards to your patients – that you wouldn’t do in an offline environment.
AMA Guidelines for Social Media Use by the Medical Profession
The AMA has proposed the following guidelines with their policy. We have also outlined what it dictate with regards to appropriate online behavior. These guidelines apply to how you engage with others on Facebook, Twitter, or your blog.
- Remember patients’ privacy when engaging with people online – social media allows you to interact with your patients in new ways. You are provided with the opportunity to field their questions, provide information about procedures, and share successful results with the world. Make sure that this is accomplished in a way that puts patient privacy first. Never divulge names or display photos of your patients’ faces. Also be careful in your interactions – even if a patient provides some personal information while posing a question, you cannot respond with anything that compromises their privacy regardless of what they have divulged already. Continue your discussion in a private setting if this is a risk – use a private messaging function or setup a consultation in your office.
- Remember that anything you put online does not go away – even if you think you are posting something that’s protected by privacy settings, there’s the potential for it to be viewed by a greater audience. A good rule of thumb when you’re using social networks as a medical practice is to avoid posting anything you wouldn’t want the whole world to see, regardless of your privacy settings.
- Remain professional when using social networks for your practice – it is a rule that you likely keep offline; that you shouldn’t mix business with pleasure, and it applies online too. If you have a Twitter account for your practice, use that to engage with patients and discuss industry-relevant topics. Keep a separate account for social interactions so you can discuss topics that have no relationship to your brand image as a medical professional.