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Social Media Policies Crucial to Healthcare’s Success

As someone who is involved in both marketing and healthcare document management, I wanted to write about social media policies for hospitals. Whether it’s seen as a great way to promote the hospital or a big, bad risk to patient privacy, social media is here to stay.

“But I didn’t know!”
Social media platforms are always changing, and people don’t always know what is appropriate. Some employees might tweet or post Facebook statuses about innocent topics, such as car troubles on the way to work or a review of some restaurant they ate at during lunch.

Social Media Policy
photo by Intersection Consulting via PhotoRee

However, what is appropriate for social media may get fuzzy when talking about patient privacy. It is important to make the line clear with a policy, at the very least reminding employees about the sensitivity of patient information. This is not to say that social media is a bad thing. On the contrary, it can be a great way to promote the great things your hospital is doing; and empowering employees to exercise their right to free speech is a wonderful reflection on your organization! A good example is an administrator tweeting about a healthcare leadership conference he attended, or an employee giving advice to future nursing students on his or her personal blog. Either way, having clear guidelines for both personal and corporate social media efforts will make social media safer and more enjoyable for everyone.

There’s help for you yet
If you’re not well-versed in social media, there are plenty of resources and templates out there to help you decide what to include in your policy. As with any technology-based topic, you may need to review the policy more frequently as new social media platforms arise and their capabilities change. The biggest point to remember is that social media will happen, and you can’t just stop it (nor should you) just by restricting Facebook on hospital computers. However, you can help protect the hospital, its employees and its patients by providing guidelines and ensuring each employee has read and understood them.

Featured feature:
PolicyStat’s “Acknowledgments” feature allows you to track who has (and hasn’t) read and understood a policy, making it easy to manage a social media policy affecting hundreds of staff members!

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