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Social Media and Medical Professionalism: A Manifesto from #HealthXPh



Last February 8, the #HealthXPh tweet chat and Google Hangout on Air discussed proper and responsible use of Facebook by healthcare workers. Gia (@giasison), Remo (@bonedoc), Buboy (@cebumd) and I all knew that there are several guidelines out already advising how healthcare professionals should conduct themselves on line. One is the Online Medical Professionalism: Patient and Public Relationships: Policy Statement From the American College of Physicians and the Federation of State Medical Boards. But we realized that #HealthXPh rather than making another guideline should come up with a manifesto instead.

What’s a manifesto? It’s defined by as

a written statement that describes the policies, goals, and opinions of a person or group.

#HealthXPh is after all an interest group and not a governing body. Guidelines tell people what to do. A manifesto for me, is a declaration of what I intend to do.

So here’s what #HealthXPh is doing at the next tweet chat Feb 15 10 am (GMT+8) Manila time. We’re crowdsourcing our manifesto! The manifesto will be a collation of statements that will embody how we as healthcare professionals will behave online.

In this literature review by Gholami-Kordkheili et al, The Impact of Social Media on Medical Professionalism: A Systematic Qualitative Review of Challenges and Opportunities, “medical professionalism” was operationally defined by the ten commitments in the physician’s charter “Medical Professionalism in the New Millennium” by the ABIM Foundation. These are:

  1. Professional competence
  2. Honesty with patients
  3. Patient confidentiality
  4. Maintaining appropriate relations with patients
  5. Improving quality of care
  6. Improving access to care
  7. A just distribution of finite resources
  8. Scientific knowledge
  9. Maintaining trust by managing conflicts of interest
  10. Professional responsibilities

I didn’t know of any equivalent in Philippine healthcare (please leave a comment to let me know if there is) so I looked instead at the Philippine Medical Association Code of Ethics.

Article 1. General Principles

Section 1.
The primary objective of the practice of medicine is service to mankind irrespective of race, age, disease, disability, gender, sexual orientation, social standing, creed or political affiliation. In medical practice, reward or financial gain should be a subordinate consideration.

Section 2.
On entering the profession, a physician assumes the obligation of maintaining the honorable tradition that confers the well deserved title of “friend of mankind”. The physician should cherish a proper pride in the calling and conduct himself/herself in accordance with this Code and in the generally accepted principles of the International Code of Medical Ethics.

Section 3.
Physicians should fulfill the civic duties of a good citizen, must conform to the laws and cooperate with the proper authorities in the application of medical knowledge for the promotion of the common welfare.

Section 4.
Physicians should work together in harmony and mutual respect.

Section 5.
Physicians should cooperate with and safeguard the interest, reputation and dignity of paramedical and other health professionals.

Section 6.
Physicians should be upright, diligent, sober, modest and well versed in both the science and the art of the profession.

Section 7
The promotion and advancement of the health of the patients should be prioritized over the benefits of the physicians and the health products industries.

From these 7 principles, I wrote the following statements for our manifesto. Gia, Remo and Buboy will also contribute. And more importantly, we are hoping that at the tweet chat, we can get feedback for these initial statements and add more.

T1. I am a physician and I will conduct myself in a manner worthy of my profession even online.

T2. Whatever I post online in relation to my medical expertise should be of benefit to my countrymen. I will prioritize the promotion and advancement of health rather than medical products.

T3. I will not use online platforms to rant against or bash patients and healthcare professionals.

T4. I will refrain from posting information online that will compromise patient confidentiality.

#HealthXPh will continue working on this until a final draft is produced. The final step will be getting signatures from our fellow Filipino physicians to support this manifesto.


1 thought on “Social Media and Medical Professionalism: A Manifesto from #HealthXPh”

  1. Thank you for writing this post, Iris. It’s essential that healthcare professionals find a way to feel they are able to have a place online. To accomplish this means we need practical ethical guidelines. I also believe it means that we should have certain expectations for conduct. One difficult part is ensuring the well-being of HCPs but that’s essential for us to be good clinicians.

    Great start and I look forward to see the end result!

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