As more companies in the health industry are entering the social media sphere, it is important to mitigate the risks where issues such as patient privacy and HIPAA can weigh heavily on all involved. The best way to do this is by creating a social media policy for your organization. We’ve put together some tips to help you establish a social media policy in the healthcare arena.
Many healthcare institutions have already established social media policies and share them online. Of course, you’ll have to tweak the established policies to fit your organization and culture, but these can definitely serve as great templates to get you started. Ed Bennett’s “Found in Cache” blog has a page with links to several examples of hospital social media policies that you can look to as a reference. For more mainstream social media policy examples, we also like to search Chris Boudreaux’s list which is categorized by industry.
When drafting your social media policy, make sure to have copies of your organization’s internal policies at hand. You’ll want to reference these as they relate to specific guidelines in your social media policy. Some of these include but are not limited to: employee code of conduct, responsible use policies, web policy and guidelines, patient confidentiality, photography of patients, Whistle Blower Policy 1.40, marketing guidelines, etc.
The fact is some people are over-sharers on the internet. Therefore, apply a social media policy to personal activity and/or professional activity that is not a part of your official organization, and where employees identify themselves as so, either through a bio, comments, or by using an official email address appointed by your organization. For instance, in their Social Media Policy of Personal Use, Vanderbilt University Medical Center requires all those associated with them to add a disclaimer to each social media channel whenever a person identifies themselves as part of VUMC while not officially acting on behalf of the medical center. It reads: The views and opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and they may not be used for advertising or product endorsement purposes.
Just because it’s a policy doesn’t mean you have to load it down with legal jargon. Make the social media policy easy to understand, clear and concise. How do you do this? Here are some quick guidelines:
It’s important to keep your social media audience, brand ambassadors and employees empowered. Do not inundate them with the things they cannot do. There is nothing worse than discouraging people from spreading news and announcements about your organization. Simple verbiage differences like “Do share content that is publically available”, “Do be honest”, etc. can make a world of difference and will more easily help users distinguish what they can and cannot do.
1. http://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/eight-steps-creating-your-socia l-media-policy
Photo credit: Flickr user Denis Dervisevic. Used with permission through Creative Commons.