Staying connected, particularly now when social functions are still stymied by the pandemic, is important. Social media gives us a way to vent, to share stories, and to connect with others in a way that can make us feel better. But of course, clinical and administrative professionals in the healthcare profession should be careful to follow an online code of ethics when using these tools.
Follow HIPAA Regulations
The first, and probably most obvious responsibility is to follow HIPAA regulations when posting online. There were a few publicized snafus a few years ago when some nurses shared some inappropriate pictures online. Organizations like the American Nurses Association (ANA) now have guidelines for clinical professionals to follow. The guidelines are fairly practical in scope; generally, you shouldn’t share any information on social media that would compromise patient health information (PHI) or that would create a negative impression of your organization and the care they offer.
Keep Profiles Private
Second, you should always keep your profiles private and accessible only by your online followers. We suggest caution in “friending” your coworkers until you know them and are comfortable with the content that they post. You don’t want any blowback from a coworker who is less-than judicious about what they share. It’s fine to set up two separate profiles, a professional and personal account on your favorite social channels. That way the line between life and work remains distinct.
Check with your Employer
Third, check with your hospital or healthcare employer to see what rules they recommend around social media. You can use these tools to attract more patients to your practice, but just make sure you’re not violating any rules of conduct set by your employer.
Finally, stay positive on social. It may be tempting to blow off steam after a bad day, but truly, we recommend finding another outlet. Even if your profile is private, the information you share on social media is out there for your friends to reshare. So, say a social follower reposts what you’ve said, but their account isn’t private and your employer picks up on a complaint about a bad work experience you posted. Generally, it’s better to be cautious instead of letting it rip on a social venue.
Healthcare professionals carry the additional weight of representing their clinical profession to the public. As such, there are professional responsibilities that must be considered every time you go into the very public form of online social media platforms. Stay aware of these responsibilities and set up boundaries to protect your professional career.
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