Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have become a regular part of our daily lives—there is no ignoring that fact. Many workers in the health care field use social media each day, often during work hours. While there are some benefits to having employees active on social media, there are many risks as well, making a social media policy an absolute necessity. Here, we’ll look at the reasons you need a social media policy and some guidelines for creating one.
Risks of Not Having a Social Media Policy
Your healthcare facility must adhere to federal regulations regarding the privacy and security of patient information. In addition, you must maintain a professional reputation in order to preserve patients’ trust. Use of social media by doctors, nurses, technicians, and other staff members can become problematic if it is harmful to patient care or reduces productivity, exposes private information, is offensive in nature, or reflects negatively on the institution/practice. Hospitals, medical practices, imaging centers, and other healthcare providers are wise to put a policy in place to explain the organization’s rules on how social media is to be used during and outside of working hours.
Making An Effective Social Media Policy
To make your social media policy truly effective, there are several items you’ll need to keep in mind.
- Get advice from marketing, IT, HR, and legal sources on what should be included in the policy.
- Focus on what employees can and should do versus what they can’t do.
- Keep it short, clear, and simple.
- Connect the social media policy with existing protocols, including those ensuring productivity
- Include legal issues, including HIPAA compliance
- Use the policy to educate and build awareness rather than merely punish and restrict
Truly effective policies balance the human aspect of your workforce with the rules they will need to follow. For example, some hospitals use these policies to indicate how employees can use social media to promote their brand while setting guidelines on the nature of their posts. They don’t restrict all access, but rather establish rules for approved usage.
While it is recommended that your social media policy be constructed in a positive way, there are still legal issues you will need to cover. You will need a skilled health law attorney—such as Larry “Max” Maxwell in Dallas—to assist with putting your policy together.