Duke K. Pitfalls in the Influencer Era: Bias, Transparency, Privacy. Presented at: Association for Healthcare Social Media meeting; July 26, 2020 (virtual meeting).
Healio Gastroenterology could not confirm Duke’s relevant financial disclosures at the time of publication.
Health care providers on social media are often held to higher standards than other individuals.
In her presentation at the inaugural Association of Health Care Social Media, Katie Duke, ACNP-BC, discussed how physicians and others can navigate health care-specific, employer-related concerns while engaging with their audience and building a brand online.
“Difficulties are everywhere,” she said. “This is really the annoying part of social media, but this is just life. This is life when you have a professional job and you’re bound to a different set of standards than the average person. As health care providers we are bound to a different set of standards than the average person who may work in marketing or finance.”
Hospital and employer social media policy
Duke said individuals in the health care industry need to be well-versed in their institution’s social media policies, whether they work at a hospital, pharmaceutical company or medical lab.
“If you do not do that and just assume, ‘Oh, I’ll just take pictures in the break room,’ then it will be your own fault,” she said. “Study the social media policies.”
Duke said hospitals often have restrictions against posting pictures from anywhere on hospital grounds. She has even found herself in hot water after taking selfies in areas where no patient care takes place.
“You will constantly be under the microscope,” she said. “If you go into this and assume, ‘I’m good. My message is good. People like me,’ then your ignorance will eventually come back and bite you in the tail.”
Physicians are likely familiar with HIPAA rules on sharing patient information. However, there are opportunities on social media to collaborate with and learn from colleagues or to celebrate a success story.
“If you wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing it in an elevator, then don’t share it on social media,” Duke said.
Even in situations where doctors get permission from their patients to share some kind of information, Duke said it is imperative to get that permission in writing to ensure all the proper documentation is in place. It is also critical to alert a superior about that patient consent prior to posting anything.
“No one care about your intentions,” she said. “You have to have a paper trail and cover yourself.”
Be open, proactive with employers
There are instances where an employer may not endorse an individual’s platform on social media. Duke said in these situations she has assured potential employers that her social media is a professional and personal presence that she uses to mentor and foster an online community. However, her social media platform has cost her opportunities in the past.
“You have to understand that sometimes going out and blasting that you have a social media platform in you interview may not be the best thing, and I would not advise people to do that unless your employer asks you about it,” she said. “If they do, you need to be honest with them. You need to tell them that it will never interrupt your workflow, your professionalism or your job duties at their facility.”