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Social Media Policy for Healthcare Institutions

I had a great opportunity to share the stage last week with Dr. Leonard Achan Jr. at a conference in the Philippine General Hospital. In my last post, I talked about the great opportunity to harness social media in healthcare. Now let me share what I learned about social media policy from Dr. Achan, the Vice President of Digital & Social Media and Executive Services at Mount Sinai Medical Center.

  1. The hospital (or the medical school) must create a Center for Digital and Social Media who will enforce a social media policy.
  2. The social media policy will be two-prong: internal policy for hospital employees/faculty/trainees and external policy for patients.  A social media policy is necessary to help avoid risky behavior. Dr. Achan says that unless the institution embraces social media and puts a policy in place, the employees/faculty/trainees will use it outside the institution and beyond the reach of authority where it can get out of hand. He believes that a social media policy will reap the 99% benefit and manage the 1% risk.
  3. With an internal social media policy, it becomes possible for hospital personnel who maintain blogs/fanpages to have these reviewed by the Center for Digital & Social Media. As a matter of policy, these blogs/fanpages will have standard disclaimer & disclosure statements and will be required to link back to the main hospital website.
  4. The external social media policy for patients is to inform them about the rules of engagement – what constitutes proper behavior and what can they expect from the interaction.

These things in particular, struck me about Dr. Achan’s talk. First, because in the hospital we have no social media policy in place and second, because he recommends crafting a social media policy rather than outlawing social media when problems arise – a knee jerk reaction by administration. The last item about defining the rules of engagement with patients is sorely needed, especially since of late, I’ve been receiving more friend requests from patients or relatives of patients (which I decline :().

I took a look at the Mount Sinai Medical Center Social Media guideline which cites ten best practices:

Take responsibility and use good judgment.

Think before you post.

Protect patient privacy.

Protect your own privacy.

Respect work commitments.

Identify yourself.

Use a disclaimer.

Respect copyright and fair use laws.

Protect proprietary information.

Seek expert guidance.


Think before you post! That for me is the most valuable advice. Much of the risky behavior I have seen on Facebook has been related to venting anger or frustration within the workplace. That is why I agree completely with Ang Tod who shared this picture on Facebook.

If you have a problem, face it. Don’t facebook it!

Facebook problem





A social media policy need not be complicated. It can really be that simple! 🙂

1 thought on “Social Media Policy for Healthcare Institutions”

  1. Pingback: Can Patients be Facebook Friends with Doctors? | The Endocrine Witch

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