What Doctors Shouldn’t Share on Social Media

November 26th, 2014 2 Min read What Doctors Shouldn’t Share on Social Media Blog
social-media-scaredAll of us have fears, some more rational than others. Nearly half of the population is terrified of public speaking. Not me — I have an intense fear of cotton balls. Why? For whatever reason, the texture makes me crawl out of my skin. Here are a few more surprising fears:
  • Aquaphobia – 26% of the population is fearful of being in or on open water.
  • Nomophobia – 66% of the population suffers from the fear of being without their phone.
  • Pediophobia – It is estimated that one in eight women have a fear of dolls.
For many physicians, social media and how to conduct themselves online can be just as scary as anything on this list. What Frightens Doctors? A recent study conducted by MedData group reveals some of the top concerns of physicians, as it relates to social media:
  • I am concerned with patient privacy — 52%
  • I don't have the time — 51%
  • I have concerns about liability — 42%
  • I believe social media brings little value to me professionally — 40%
  • I am not familiar with using social media networks — 23%
What Should You be Afraid Of? Some of the biggest worries for physicians using social media are concerns about patient privacy and liability. To get over these fears, and to avoid any medical board disciplinary action, here are a few things that doctors should avoid when using social media:
  • Inappropriate communication with patients
  • Misrepresentation of credentials
  • Violations of patient confidentiality. These pieces of information for patients are to be protected: > Names > Geographic information > Dates (e.g. birth date, admission date, discharge date, date of death) > Telephone numbers > Fax numbers > E-mail addresses > Social Security numbers > Medical record numbers > Health plan beneficiary numbers > Account numbers > Certificate/license numbers > Vehicle identifiers and serial numbers, including license plate numbers > Device identifiers and serial numbers > URLs > IP address numbers > Biometric identifiers (e.g. finger and voice prints) > Full-face photographic images and any comparable images > Other unique identifying numbers, characteristics, or codes.
  • Failure to reveal conflicts of interest
  • Derogatory remarks regarding a patient
  • Depiction of intoxication
  • Discriminatory language or practices
You Don’t Have to be Afraid Sure, water, cell phones — and even cotton balls — can be scary. But if you can just steer clear of the pitfalls listed above, social media doesn’t have to be. In fact, it can become a great tool for building stronger relationships with your patients and peers online. Looking for more social media advice for physicians? Check out Tips for Staying HIPAA-Compliant on Social Media.