Social Media in medical practice

Medical practitioners incorporate social media more now than ever


In today’s age of digital communication and social networks, doctor and patient interactions have bridged into virtual platforms of social media.

These social networks outside the doctor’s offices, between patients and physicians, have created ethical problem areas of which future doctors should become aware.

According to one report, more than 1.4 billion people actively use some form of social media network. It’s these social media networks that can blur the lines of professional and unprofessional contact between a patient and doctor.

The medical professional’s use of social media has become more common in recent years, according to an article published by the Australian Medical Association. The article states, while doctors and medical students increasingly participate in social media, evidence shows an increasing risk for the medical professional in regards to legal problems.

The number one authority to consider when using social media from the perspective of a medical service provider is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA. This requirement safeguards patients and their families from violations from unauthorized dissemination of Protected Health Information.

Medical practitioners who have violated HIPAA guidelines can face fines from $100 to $50,000 per incident, according to the Guide to Privacy and Security of Electronic Health Information published by the Department of Health and Human Services.

While building social networks can be important in collaborating ideas or establishing professional relationships, future doctors should keep in mind that social media networks are not the means to discuss cases or patient information, according to most professionals.

The American University of Integrative Sciences, School of Medicine recently launched a more robust social media campaign. In that effort, it presently educates its staff and students on how to effectively balance social networks and professional networks.

When it comes to marketing and maintaining AUIS’s public identity, there are some things to consider, said Amanda Bell-Kirson, AUIS Assistant Director of sales and marketing.

“We hope that our students and staff understand how their public activity and their social networking engagement can have an impact on their professional futures,” Ms. Bell-Kirson said. “We encourage our students to consistently present themselves professionally.”


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