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Medical Professionals Beware: 3 Ways Social Media Can Stall a Practice

After years of hard work, you’ve finally been able to open the doors of your private medical practice. The front desk telephones are ringing and the appointment book is filling fast.



Meeting members of your new community and helping them to live healthier lives feels wonderful. You’re making a positive difference in countless lives, and there’s no stopping you now.



Some months later on a sunny Monday morning, you notice that you have over a dozen voicemail messages. All of the messages are appointment cancellations. In a few of the messages you’re told that the patient won’t be setting up another appointment. Why? Has something happened? Then it hits you: the staff party. People were drinking, pictures were being taken and there is no doubt people were sharing them online. You were still in your scrubs at the party! Do people think you drink on the job?





If you have medical professional insurance, your medical practice’s business losses will be covered until you’re able to get back on your feet. But, your insurance should only be used as a last resort.



To keep your medical practice healthy and thriving, here are three social media snafus to steer clear of.



-Do not use intolerant language on personal website or in social media posts. In a survey sent to state medical licensing board directors across the United States, a group of researchers wanted to learn when disciplinary actions would be taken against a physician for things they did online. A number of respondents said posting harmful language online, even on the doctor’s personal social media feed would call for reproach.



It’s not only the medical board of directors you need to worry about, but the message you’re putting out into the world. One politically-charged callous post could explode online. If a patient disagrees with your stance, you could not only lose their business, but they can report you to the medical board as well.



-Do not post pictures to social media of yourself in precarious situations. People google each other. If you want to learn more about someone, you type their name into the Google search engine and BAM—their Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram feeds pop up. You can learn everything from what they had for dinner to who they’re dating. As a medical professional, you can expect prospective patients to Google you in an effort to learn more about your background and education and what it is you specialize in. On top of learning more about your credentials, they can also pinpoint when you went to the bar with your buddies. Still in your scrubs in those pics? How do they know you don’t drink on the job? Don’t post anything online you wouldn’t want a patient to see.



-Do not post a blurb about a patient that gives everything but their name. You’re going to have some interesting patients during your tenure as a physician. There will be patients that make you laugh and patients you’ll wish you could sedate. It’s only natural that you’d want to blow off some steam after work. If you keep a blog, you might be tempted to dedicate a post to a cranky hypochondriac you’ve had to deal with all week. Don’t do this. Dr. Anna Reisman writes that revealing too many details about a patient (even when the name is not included) will only set you up for failure. If it’s learned a blog post you wrote up was about a patient, you could be violating HIPAA guidelines.



Post online only what you’re willing to let your patients see, because even if your accounts are set to private, there’s always a way to bypass them. Should you do everything right but still get stuck in a social media snafu, there’s medical professional insurance. Visit CoverHound today for a free quote.



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