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Social media "Do's and Dont's" for health care professionals

M3 India Newsdesk Aug 23, 2017

Do you regularly use social media for voicing your opinion or to reach out to your patients or spread a message?





Have you ever thought of social media as a powerful tool that can enhance or damage your professional image?

The evolving technological environment is not only shaping people’s lives but is also changing professional environment including the healthcare sector. Having realized the potential. Doctors are using social media to voice their opinions, reach out to their patients and spread the health message.


If you are a healthcare professional and active social media user, here is some food for your thought;

Have you googled your name to see what the search result throws up? Are you comfortable with the search results? Does it show the information that you would like to change?

The opportunities that social media provides largely rests on how one leverages these platforms to become trusted online purveyors of high-quality, information to patients or potential patients.

While many doctors are already using social media that encompasses the blogs, social networks, video- and photo-sharing sites, wikis, and myriad other media, some others are still battling with thoughts such as,

“Why should I bother about social media?”, “Is it even professional to use social media for doctors?”, “what if I get in to trouble?

While all these questions hold good, one cannot deny the importance of online presence for physicians as it offers a potential tool to position you and your practice in the public domain It is only wise that doctors follow a structured, standard plan and stick to certain thumb rules to achieve their goals while staying away from unwanted attention on any social media platform. Because, when used unwisely and imprudently, social media carries the potential to seriously damage one's professional and personal life.

Navigating the social media scene can be a minefield for the doctors. To safegaurd, the dignity of their patients and their profession, a health care professional should follow some guidelines while using social media.



 Have a separate business profile. It is important to have separate your media lives and keep your personal and professional lives clearly separate. If you want to use the same social media channel for a professional and personal role, do it with different profile names. E.g. A professional page can be “Dr. Raj” for patients and practice while a personal page can be “Raj” for friends and family, making it feasible to use the channel for both professional and personal use.


Make sure your professional profile clearly carries the important relevant information such as your name with professional designation, your proper contact details, a professional profile picture and/or your clinic logo and an “about me” section which includes keywords that you want to be associated with.


 Use the social media platform to engage with your audience in real-time. Be sensitive and alert about all that you share on social media profiles.Post only that content which will not hurt the dignity of patient, hospital or your staff: There can be many potential good or bad events around you as a healthcare professional that can push you for a social media share. But the sensitivity of your profession needs you to “think before posting anything”. A casually put up piece of information can get you in trouble or hurt the people around you. If in any case, you wish to name or use the image of a patient on any social media channel, it is required to take written permission from the patient. E.g. if you have managed a critical case well and want to show it on your website, take written permission from the patient and then post it on social media platform.


Use the social media platform to inform your audience about the latest work-related happenings. New developments in your field or new services that you might be providing can also be part of the posts that you put on the social media platform. Other than this, Video documentaries about the various treatments your clinic offers are also popular and well received.

Strategy: Use of social media platforms can be double-edged sword. It is important to have a strategy in place and make good use of this platform for greater good.It is critical to identify the prime reason what has prompted you to be on social media and then devise a strategy accodingly to achieve that goal.

When Dr. Nisa started using social media platforms, a few years ago, her goals were clear, she aimed at sharing as much as correct, evidence based information for her patients rebutting the gamut of halfbaked misinformation abot health.Today she has more than 25000 followers who look upto her for authentic information.

Dr. Rahul, on the other hand, got on to social media to further his career by following and sharing information from the field of medicine and reaserch from reputed organisations.This allowed him to get in touch with organisations far and wide offered him an  opportunity to  spot and nurse his passion.


Establish a positive and strong online reputation by identifying your goals and sticking to your mission goals.


  • Don’t breach patient privacy: A doctor should never write about an actual patient story or case.
  • Never cross the boundaries within the physician-patient relationship: Even if you are requested for an online conversation by your patient, maintain Proper professional conduct when interacting with patients online.
  • Don’t be a spokesperson for your organization: Let the concerned person issue a statement in any situation and avoid speaking on your organization’s behalf anywhere.
  • Don’t use social media to communicate with patients about their medical conditions or treatments
  • Don’t post information that is ambiguous or that could be misconstrued or taken out of context.


If this motivates you, get started right away. Just be aware and follow all of these steps and you can successfully establish a significant presence on social media.

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