For locums, social media is an excellent tool for staying connected to friends and family while on assignment. Whether sharing pics of the incredible outdoors that make the upper Midwest such an attractive destination for many providers or bringing your followers up to speed on what’s happening in your life, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and blogs have replaced email and phone as the preferred communication channels. However, the public nature of social media creates pitfalls that providers should keep in mind. Making a poor online decision can have an unforeseen professional impact, causing problems with your employer and possibly imperiling your license.
Here are four things providers should keep in mind:
Don’t forget HIPAA
This one may seem obvious, but it continues to be a problem for some medical professionals who inadvertently violate HIPAA with a social media post. Anything that compromises patient privacy can result in hefty fines and even termination. Most facilities have rules governing social media designed to keep staff HIPAA compliant. Familiarizing yourself with those policies is one way to ensure you don’t make a costly error.
Don’t offer medical advice on social media
If someone hits you up for a quick diagnosis or any medical advice on social media, you should handle it the same way you would if that person approached you at a party or sporting event; ask them to make an appointment. Not only is social media the wrong place for a provider to offer a medical opinion, but you also need boundaries to maintain a work/life balance.
Don’t accept friend requests from patients on social media
The legendary friendliness of the upper Midwest is a big draw for locums. But keeping a professional distance between yourself and those you treat is a must. Rather than “friending” a patient online, encourage them to follow your clinic or hospital’s account instead.
Don’t damage your reputation
That pic of you and your friends partying in Cancun is probably not the image you want to project to your patients and employer. Avoiding content that paints you in an unprofessional light is always a good rule of thumb online. If you want to stay “unfiltered” on social media, managing your privacy settings is an easy way to control who sees your content.
There is nothing preventing providers from having fun on social media. Remembering some simple guidelines can protect yourself and your employer from undesirable outcomes.