A study out today from two Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center physicians, Arash Mostaghimi, MD, MPA and Bradley H. Crotty, MD provides some recommendations on how physicians can use social media sites and still maintain a necessary level of professionalism.
According to a summary on the website MedicalNewsToday, Mostaghimi and Crotty’s article in today’s Annals of Internal Medicine discusses the challenge of using sites like Facebook and Twitter to communicate professionally with patients and colleagues, and also personally with friends and family. The balance of social media is the need to protect the confidential nature of communications between patients and providers, while at the same time leveraging the strength of the tool to convey general messages to an audience. Specifically, from MedicalNewsToday:
Mostaghimi and Crotty recommend that institutions develop standards and educational materials to guide physicians and that physicians be both knowledgeable about social media and protective of their online presence. They advise physicians to regularly perform “electronic self-audits” of their online identity and create “dual citizenship” with a distinct professional profile intended to come up early on a search engine query.
The authors go on to discourage the use of sites like Facebook and Twitter for direct communication with patients since the information is controlled by the social media companies. These types of sites, they say, should be reserved for general announcements like flu vaccination.
The bottom line on this: The use of social media can be of enormous benefit. And, use caution. Are there other recommendations you would make?