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The Social Media Physician Code of Ethics

While many hospitals and medical schools initially cautioned medical professionals from engaging in social media, most realize that is simply not realistic. Plastic surgeons and other medical professionals are quickly closing the gap on other professionals in the use of social media and for good reason; their patients expect them to be there.

In response to the advent of the social media physician, many medical groups are now encouraging their members to engage actively in social media. But many, like the Massachusetts Medical Society, are also stressing the need for a code of ethics when using social media.

Carefully planned and professionally executed participation in social media by physicians is professionally appropriate, and can be an effective method to connect with colleagues, advance professional expertise, educate patients, and enhance the public profile and reputation of your profession.

Physicians must recognize that online content can have a significant impact on public trust in the medical profession, both positively and negatively. The content that physicians post online may also influence their reputations among patients and colleagues, and may have consequences for their medical careers, particularly for physicians in training and medical students.

Some of the guidelines suggested by the Massachusetts Medical Society and other associations include:

Patient Privacy – Everything that applies to patient confidentiality applies to social media in all its forms. This includes a patient’s express written permission to post photos or other personal information.

Physician Privacy – You need to make yourself fully aware of what it takes to safeguard your own personal information. Monitor you Internet presence to guarantee the professional and personal information on your sites correct and appropriate.

Patient/Physician Boundaries – Communication between you and your patients through social media should maintain the same boundaries called for in other professional ethical guidelines. It is highly recommended you keep your personal and professional online content separate. You should agree to online patient invitations to connect only through your professional social networking site. It is not recommended to accept patients’ invitations to connect on personal networking sites.

Peer Ethics – You are encouraged to hold your colleagues accountable to codes of ethics in social media just as you do the rest of your practice and profession. If you come across inappropriate social media content from a colleague, you are encouraged to bring it to their attention. Such content that is not corrected should be brought to the attention of appropriate authorities.

Financial Relationships – Physicians are required to disclose all financial or other relationships they have with the maker or provider of products and services they discuss or review online.

Physicians are encouraged to recognize that online content has a significant impact on public confidence, both positively and negatively. The content you post online can influence your reputation among patients and colleagues. It can have consequences on your medical career!

This is why, at Digital Solutions we do everything we can to help you protect your online reputation.

Past articles on Doctor reviews:

Making Online Doctor Reviews Work for You

Become Proactive about Patient Reviews of Doctors

Monitoring Patient Reviews of Doctors

Online Reputation: An 800 pound Gorilla at Light Speed



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About Tim
Tim George is a regularly contributing author to the MDWebPro blog. Tim is passionate about web marketing for MDs expecially the latest trends and results in social media, SEO and inbound marketing. For more, please follow @MDWebPro on Twitter

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