In San Diego this week, the American Medical Association announced some guidelines to help physicians navigate social media:
- Use privacy settings to safeguard personal information and content to the fullest extent possible on social networking sites.
- Routinely monitor their own Internet presence to ensure that the personal and professional information on their own sites and content posted about them by others, is accurate and appropriate.
- Maintain appropriate boundaries of the patient-physician relationship when interacting with patients online and ensure patient privacy and confidentiality is maintained.
- Consider separating personal and professional content online.
- Recognize that actions online and content posted can negatively affect their reputations among patients and colleagues, and may even have consequences for their medical careers.
The importance of these two moves at a state and national level from organized medicine cannot be overstated. This is HUGE. Hopefully my professional organization, the American Academy of Family Physicians, will follow suit with some guidance for their physician members.
I have said all along that people like professional organizations will not be the ones to push physicians to social media use. It will ultimately be patients who drive physicians to social media. However, I agree with Doctor_V in saying that this major step by a physician organization will help solidify the importance of the use of social media.