Social Media Policy for HealthcareEd Bennett’s fine list of social media policies is an invaluable resource for healthcare brands looking to formulate their own social media policies, both for their employees and community. We’ve written about HIPAA in the past, recognizing the need for healthcare systems to remain aware of patient privacy in their day to day social media engagement.  In that post, we noted the importance of establishing a social media policy that includes guidelines on HIPAA and patient privacy.

To expand, let’s look at three other notable takeaways from Mr. Bennett.

A Tweet is Not a Diagnosis

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles gets straight to the point with its social media policy.

“Remember that information posted on any of our social media platforms should not be considered medical advice and should not replace a consultation with a health care professional.”

Be clear with your community that personal medical advice will never come in the form of a tweet, Facebook status update or blog post.  One on one consultation with health care practitioners still takes primacy over everything else.

Communicate Your Schedule

Be clear about your hours of operation in your policy.  MD Anderson Cancer Center notes their comment policy on their CancerWise Blog:

“To protect patient privacy and ensure comments are appropriate for all audiences, comments made to the blog will not appear within the blog until they have been reviewed by an internal moderator and approved to post. The blog is not monitored on a 24-hour basis, comments posted after 6 p.m. CST may take up to 12 hours to appear.”

Set your hours and make sure your community knows exactly when someone is at the helm.  Try to do the same with all of your social media accounts. Take our own Radian6 Twitter handle as an example.

Set Your Boundaries

The Mayo Clinic takes a clear stance on how its staff should interact with patients on social media platforms.

“Mayo Clinic strongly discourages “friending” of patients on social media websites. Staff in patient care roles generally should not initiate or accept friend requests except in unusual circumstances such as the situation where an in-person friendship pre-dates the treatment relationship.”

Whatever your stance may be, clearly establish where your organization stands with regards to patient engagement on all of your social media channels.

Careful crafting of your social media policy will greatly improve your healthcare brand’s ability to leverage the vast reach of social media platforms to connect with, inform, and learn from your online community.  In addition to the points above, be sure to grab more tips from an even bigger collection of official social media policies (beyond the healthcare industry) over at Social Media Governance.

Has YOUR healthcare brand established a clear social media policy? Are there any other key points we didn’t mention in this post? Tell us about it in the comments! To learn more about healthcare and social media, check out our ebook, Social Media Strategy for the Healthcare Industry.

Jason Boies is a member of the Radian6 Community Engagement Team.  His focus is on the worlds of healthcare & pharmaceuticals.  He also tweets about film, tech, and pop culture over on Twitter at @JasonBoies.  Read other blog posts from Jason here.