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Excellent Use of Social Media by Physicians

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by: myindustrybrand
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Date: Mon, 28 Aug 2017 Time: 11:57 PM
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Social Media — Appropriate Use by Physicians

The term ‘social media’ refers to web and mobile technologies and practices that people use to share content, opinions, insights, experiences, and perspectives online. There are many prominent examples of social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and blogging sites, among many others. Social media can be used for both personal and professional purposes. Many physicians are now using social media in their practices to interact with colleagues and patients, to seek out medical information online, and to share content with a broad audience. Whether engaging in social media for personal or professional use, the nature of these platforms, which are highly accessible, informal, and public, raise important questions about the steps physicians should take to uphold their important professional obligations while online.

Purpose

This document provides guidance to physicians about how to engage in social media while continuing to meet relevant legal and professional obligations. This document is not a policy, nor does it establish any new expectations for physicians that are unique to social media. Rather, this document clarifies how existing professional expectations can be met in the social media sphere.

College position on social media

The College’s position is that physicians are expected to comply with all of their existing professional expectations, including those set out in relevant legislation, codes of ethics, and College policies, when engaging in the use of social media platforms and technologies. If physicians do so, the College recognizes that social media platforms may present important opportunities to enhance patient care, medical education, professional competence, and collegiality, among other potential benefits.

Relevant professional expectations

Legal and professional expectations that govern medical practice are set out in the College’s Practice Guide, policies, and relevant legislation. A number of these obligations are relevant to the use of social media by physicians, and are articulated below. These obligations are not unique to social media, but apply to medical practice in general, and must be met by all physicians.

Guidelines

1. Assume that all content on the Internet is public and accessible to all.

2. Exercise caution when posting information online that relates to an actual patient, in order to ensure compliance with legal and professional obligations to maintain privacy and confidentiality. Bear in mind that an unnamed patient may still be identified through a range of other information, such as a description of their clinical condition, or area of residence.

3. Refrain from providing clinical advice to specific patients through social media. It is acceptable, however, to use social media to disseminate generic medical or health information for educational or information sharing purposes.

4. Protect their own reputation, the reputation of the profession, and the public trust by not posting content that could be viewed as unprofessional.

5. Be mindful of their Internet presence, and be proactive in removing content posted by themselves or others which may be viewed as unprofessional.

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